Nsabimana on how football helped him to recover from Genocide

Eric ‘Zidane’ Nsabimana, who turns 25 in October this year, lost his father and over 15 members of his family during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. File

AS Kigali and Amavubi midfielder Eric ‘Zidane’ Nsabimana says that football helped him to forgive and build his life after losing his father during the Genocide against Tutsi in 1994.

He also hailed Rwanda’s leadership for its commitment to spearheading community development and sustainable growth 25 years after the Genocide.

His father, Apollinaire Rurangirwa, and other 15 family members are among the over one million lives that were cut short. His father was killed on May 22, 1994 in Kacyiru, months before Nsabimana was born, while his elder brother Egide Murabukirwa was killed on April 23, 1994 in Rukumberi, in Ngoma District, where he was on holidays.

“We have no choice but to move on,” he says. “My mother organises a low-key memorial service every April during which we pray for my father but that’s just about it.”

Frederick Dan Murasira, his other elder brother, was also killed in 2006 after surviving 1994. He was killed by terror group Interahamwe who had infiltrated their home village in Rukumberi.

His brother had traveled back to their ancestral home to check on their property where he was attacked and butchered by machete-wielding militiamen. His body was later recovered in a banana plantation, but those who killed him were never apprehended.

“Over 15 brothers and sisters to my father were killed during the Genocide.”

“It is because of football that I was able to forgive those who killed my father. The Genocide has had immense consequences on our family, and the Rwandan society, but football helped me to get the meaning and taste of life,” Nsabimana toldTimes Sport on Tuesday.

He says, despite the obstacles, he had to overcome, and has found hope and comfort in sport.

Nsabimana was born on October 11, 1994 after the country had been liberated from the genocidal regime by the Rwanda Patriotic Army, now Rwanda Defence Forces.

“I have gained a lot from football, and can now afford everything I want and also help my family. The beautiful sport helped me to learn how to relate to and live with others in peace.”

A week of official mourning, which started on Sunday, is currently being observed as the country reflects on the loss of over one million people killed in just 100 days during the Genocide against the Tutsi.

Nsabimana’s breakthrough came at the 2011 U-17 African Nations Cup where he impressed and was drafted in the team that represented Rwanda in the U-17 World Cup in Mexico the same year.

He would later play for Isonga FC before joining APR but then a spate of injuries restricted his playing time for the military side. The defensive midfielder plies his trade with AS Kigali since 2015.