Thirty years ago during the Liberation struggle to stop the Genocide against Tutsi, a photo of the white Sheep that was seen accompanying RPA soldiers still makes rounds.
For all this period, mixed stories have been around – many questioning what a single sheep walking in the middle of the soldiers meant for them.
Some rumored the sheep was used as a fetish – an inanimate animal they (RPA rebels) worshipped for magical powers to win the war.
The question of this sheep in the photo came back yesterday, January 9, in Nyanza District, Southern Province, when one of the teachers who were undergoing civil education camp (Ingando) threw the question to Gen. James Kabarebe – Presidential Advisor on security.
One of the teachers, Apollinaire Bizimana, asked Gen. James Kabarebe who had traveled to the camp to interact with the teachers whether that sheep was really used as a fetish.
“Sir, we have seen that during the RPF liberation struggle, a white sheep walked with soldiers. What did it represent? Did it have a special assignment during the struggle?” he asked.
In response, Gen. Kabarebe, who is widely known for leaving no stone unturned while talking about the Liberation struggle, responded: “A sheep? Yes. There is a photo in which a sheep is seen with the soldiers. But there was nothing special with that sheep. It wasn’t used as a fetish,” he said.
According to Gen. Kabarebe, the sheep belonged to 101 battalion – then commanded by late Captain Vedaste Kayitare. The battalion was known as the most powerful during the struggle.
The battalion was codenamed “Simba battalion” during the struggle.
In an interactive session with history teachers drawn from different schools in the country, Gen. Kabarebe told teachers that that sheep had mastered all military activities including the parade. He said it even knew the battalion it belonged to.
“Whenever soldiers were on a parade, that small sheep also knew how to position itself. Whenever soldiers turned back, it did the same. Even when they were mixed up, it could easily trace its battalion,” Gen. Kabarebe said.
Dying a hero
The photo of the small sheep first appeared at the time politicians different political parties visited RPF rebels.
According to Gen. Kabarebe, at the times soldiers organized a ceremony to receive the visitors. During a military parade, Gen. Kabarebe said, “It (sheep) also performed well like soldiers.”
However, he added that when RPA launched the war to stop the genocide, they were shelled and a mortar gun killed the small sheep – marking an end to its bravery during the struggle.
“It did not manage to stop the genocide,” Kabarebe told teachers.