The Interahamwe carried out the Genocide against the Tutsis in 1994, using different methods to exterminate the Tutsi quickly.
One of these ways was to tie Tutsis and throw them alive into different lakes and rivers across the country, so that they may drown or be eaten by crocodiles.
Athanasie Mukamana lives on the banks of one of these water bodies- Nyabarongo River, in Kigali Sector in Nyarugenge District in the outskirts of Kigali city- the settlement where militia tried to drown her three times but survived.
In her testimony, Mukamana says that the Interahamwe militia threw her into the Nyabarongo river three times, but the river refused’ to swallow her (to drown) until she was rescued by the Rwanda Patriotic Front (Inkotanyi) soldiers.
The first time when she was thrown into Nyabarongo, Mukamana says that the Interahamwe caught her along with her grandfather, grandmother, and brothers and tied all of them up and then threw them alive into the running river.
The rest of her family died but she was washed away by the stream to the banks where she hung onto the grass and was rescued by another lady (who was also drowned) but managed to swim and save her across Nyabarongo.
The second time was soon after she had been saved by the unidentified lady. Mukamana says that as soon as they reached the river banks, both of them were arrested by the then-government soldiers, who took them to their base, raped them repeatedly and beat them up close to death.
Mukamana was cut with machetes and thrown into the Nyabarongo river for the second time, and she was washed to the river banks but her colleague didn’t make it out.
As soon as she survived the second time, Mukamana decided to go to Rwesero Cell in Kigali Sector where her grandmother lived, and by good luck, she found her there and alive.
However, it was not long after two weeks that another Interahamwe group attacked the place, and they captured her along with her aunties- who were all thoroughly beaten to near- death then later thrown into the Nyabarongo river.
For the third time, she survived and says that the river flow washed her over to the shores where she was rescued by the Inkotanyi soldiers but the rest of the family didn’t survive.
“I consider this Nyabarongo river here, as my grandfather, as my grandmother, and as all my relatives who were killed in the Genocide against the Tutsis,” Mukamana said while standing at the Nyabarongo river banks during the closing ceremony of the end of official commemoration week on April 13, 2023.
Today, Mukamana is grateful to be alive and says that it is the Rwanda Patriotic Front (Inkotanyi) soldiers who sacrificed and put their lives at risk to save her from the genocide killings in 1994.
“I am married with five children, who will be happy and I don’t know how much I can be grateful to the Inkotanyi,” she said.
Local government officials at the event comforted genocide survivors in Kigali Sector and assured them that based on the good leadership led by President Paul Kagame, genocide will not happen again.