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Amayaga Genocide Survivors Foundation Helping Community Carry On

by Jean de la Croix Tabaro
2:14 pm

Alex Rusagara, member of the Amayaga Genocide Survivors Foundation speaking about their organisation at KT Radio

In the aftermath of the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi, Genocide survivors from Amayaga in the former Ntongwe commune and neighboring villages, currently Ruhango district realized the need to join hands and think about the future that needed to be faced with resilience.

They started the Amayaga Genocide Survivors Foundation(AGSF).

“Our elders’ concern was that the young Genocide survivors would subscribe to delinquency and other challenges caused by despair after the Genocide,” said Alex Rusagara, president of AGSF on Thursday.

“They started this foundation with objectives of bringing together the Genocide survivors, correcting those that are going astray and assuring discipline of the survivors.”

Moreover, said Rusagara, we have moved ahead to find ways of living in different corners of the country. We have got that objective of looking back and take care of our community still in Amayaga.

These objectives bring AGSF to concrete social activities of finding shelter to Genocide survivors, paying the community health insurance-mutuelle de sante for the members who are not able to make it, among others.

“We are a family. We do advocacy for those that need jobs and some of us actually provide jobs for those who qualify,” said Rusagara.

In fact, said Rusagara, the organisation is not looking forward to building a storied commercial building in Kigali, but to assure, that none is left behind.

Currently, the challenges of the organisation is to do with shelter where some members do not have houses, yet the foundation does not have enough means to provide for them.

Some other Genocide survivors also have houses, but they are old and already in a sorry state.

AGSF is also pleading to whom is concerned to support their campaign of building an archive facility that should house the audio visual materials, pictures, books and other materials that constitute their story.

This justifies the reason being of  the continued AGSF advocacy.

Furthermore, AGSF can’t wait to hear the good news of arrest of notorious Genocide perpetrators like Charles Kagabo who was Bourgmaster of Ntongwe Commune.

Genocide in Amayaga

The Genocide in Ntongwe which constitutes the biggest part of Amayaga, now in Ruhango district started as earlier as April 7, 1994.

However, some dates will never  be forgotten in the life of Genocide survivors.

On April 19,1994, so many militias, in collaboration with Burundian refugees on opposite hill of Nyagahama attacked the Tutsi who Bourgmaster Kagabo had gathered at Ntongwe commune pretending to seek their protection. The militia awaiting to exterminate them were all armed with crude weapons.

The Tutsi at Ntongwe commune managed to push them with stones, but, little did they know that the worst was in the making.

Theogene Rusanganwa (L) and Alex Rusagara, member of the Amayaga Genocide Survivors Foundation speaking about the Genocide in Ntongwe commune at KT Radio, April 21, 2022. Host is Ines Ghislaine Nyinawumuntu

The attack of April 19 angered the Hutu, and they came together, collected about Rwf 2 million and crossed to Bugesera commune for support of the Interahamwe who had finished the job that side.

“The money was handed to Gako military camp as facilitation to soldiers to come and wipe us out. They also invited interahamwe from Bugesera to come and help in looting and finishing anyone who would not meet the bullet,” Samuel Dusengiyumva, one of Amayaga survivors recalls.

More soldiers were brought by Kagabo from Sub Prefecture. He placed them in the wetland of Nyamukumba, a valley between two hills forming a kind of a corridor on the road to Ruhango such that none would escape.

Then on April 21, recalls Dusengiyumva, a huge crowd of Interahamwe jammed the Tutsi camp.

“It was a really huge crowd estimated to 30,000. They formed a wall of some 5 kilometers and we saw ourselves helpless,” he said.

Bourgmester Kagabo turned to the helpless Tutsi and told them, “You know! I am overwhelmed. I am not able to protect you in front of these mad Hutus. Better flee to Ruhango.”

Barely had the Tutsi reached Nyamukumba a small military jeep had blocked the road and soldiers gave a signal of the grenade.

Nyamukumba, a valley of death during the 1994

They opened fire to the innocent civilians for some 40 minutes and when they paused, the crowd with crude arms came from all over the hills to continue.

“I can’t describe the strange noise they were making,” recalls Rusagara.

More than 60,000 Genocide victims are laid to rest in Ruhango Genocide memorial from Kinazi. On April 23, Mayaga  genocide survivors and the Rwandan community at large will hold a night vigil in their memory. On April 24, they will proceed with commemoration event.

Meanwhile, AGSF is writing a book about the Genocide in Amayaga. The book is under editing.

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