Who was Gisembe, the basketballer?

EMMANUEL NTARUGERA a.k.a Gisembe was a basketball player for the current national basketball league Espoir and the national team. He was among the club players, who never survived the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Espoir players and officials after winning the playoffs final trophy last month. The club is favourite to win the Gisembe memorial tournament in June. The New Times/P. Muzogeye.
Espoir players and officials after winning the playoffs final trophy last month. The club is favourite to win the Gisembe memorial tournament in June. The New Times/P. Muzogeye.

EMMANUEL NTARUGERA a.k.a Gisembe was a basketball player for the current national basketball league Espoir and the national team. He was among the club players, who never survived the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

According to the vice chairman of Espoir basketball club Henry Pierre Munyengabe, Gisembe was born in 1961 in Nyamirambo, a surbub of Kigali. He was an open-minded sportsman and used to enjoy the company of young children, he said.

Gisembe, who stood at 2 meters, left behind a widow and three children.

The Gisembe Memorial Tournament was initiated in 1996 in honour for the departed star as well as his fallen teammates. Upon inception, Espoir lifted the title for two consecutive times – 1996 and 1997. In 1998, 1999 and 2000, the tournament was won by APR basketball club.

In 2001, the tournament attracted regional clubs such as Urunani of Burundi which went on to win it that year. APR won it again in 2002 before DR Congo’s Goma Bulls took it the following year.

Espoir bounced back to lift the title in 2004 before APR dominated from 2005 to 2009. Munyengabe added that the club lost 18 players during the Genocide and they are still working hard to build a strong team again.

This season, Espoir won the national league and playoffs title unbeaten, setting a new record. This year’s Gisembe memorial tournament will be held in June, but no dates have been set yet.

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