In March 1997, insurgents that had been battling government forces attacked a secondary school in Ngororero district – killing students after they defied an order for Hutus to separate themselves so that Tutsi students are identified. By the end of March this year, it will be a completely different place.
Three years after the 1994 genocide against Tutsi was stopped by Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPA) rebels, the defeated ethnic extremist militia (or Ex-FAR) routinely crossed back from DR Congo to terrorize communities inside Rwanda.
The militia then locally known as ‘abacengezi’ crossed from neighbouring DRC and surrounded Nyange secondary school. The militia ordered those it branded as “Hutu” students in their dormitories to separate themselves from “Tutsi” students.
Students defied the militia orders saying; ‘We are all Rwandans’. The militia immediately killed all defiant students on spot while 19 sustained fatal injuries. Six students died from the attack, and would later be honoured in the Imena national heroes’ category of individuals whose acts promote unity and reconciliation. Dormitories and other school property were destroyed.
A government –funded renovation program started in September last year to expand the school with an additional 20 classroom blocks. The first phase of the project will be completed in March 2017.
Officials from the Western Province have allocated Rwf250m (USD$310,000) for the renovation and expansion of the school. There are also plans to raise its status from a secondary school.
In May 2000, some three years following the Nyange attack and many others across north and western Rwanda, the ‘abacengezi’ changed their name to the currently so called democratic forces for the liberation of Rwanda or FDLR.