Home NewsNational We Were Cursed from Our Birthplace – Ngurinzira’s Children

We Were Cursed from Our Birthplace – Ngurinzira’s Children

by Jean de la Croix Tabaro
4:59 pm

L-R: Uwukuri Cyril Ngurinzira, Olivia Isaro Ngurinzira, Marie Yolanda Ngurinzira Ujeneza

On April 3, 1994, the family of late Minister Boniface Ngurinzira went to the Easter celebration at ETO Kicukiro Parish, but little did they know they would return to the place three days later only to shake hands with evil.

Came April 7,1994 morning, the Minister’s bodyguard, a Belgian soldier from the united Nations Mission in Rwanda-Unamir woke them up and said that things were not at ease following the crash of president Juvenal Habyarimana’s plane.

“Please follow us, otherwise you will die!” recalls Marie Yolanda Ngurinzira Ujeneza, the last born of four children of Ngurinzira during a testimony at the closing of Kwibuka week-Rebero, April 13.

The family believed in the soldier and did not hesitate to board UNAMIR truck which they covered with a tent as though they were carrying some miliary provisions.

At ETO Kicukiro, the main road to Rebero and Gahanga towards Bugesera, thousands of Tutsi had gathered, expecting protection from Belgium peacekeepers who were at the place.

However, when they arrived to the place, Ngurinzira was suspicious and started negotiating with the soldiers, asking them to evacuate him with family as they were doing to the expatriates, because he had seen interahamwe militia who had surrounded the compound.

“They refused, and my dad turned to the French peacekeepers with the same request. They accepted, but their Belgian fellows advised that they would have security threat would they take him. To this, they changed their mind too,” Ujeneza who was a young child recalls.

On April 11, the UNAMIR peacekeepers packed their stuffs and started engine of their vehicles. The desperate Tutsi in the compound made a human barricade and laid down on ground as a sign to tell them, please crash us instead of leaving us with Interahamwe militia.

The peacekeepers shot in air to scare them and drove to Kigali International airport.

“At that time, we were terribly tired, hungry, thirsty. My father lead the way and told us to follow him,” she recalls.

The family passed behind the school compound and wondered in the bush and by bad luck, an interahamwe militia saw them and alerted his mates. Suddenly thirty militiamen surrounded them and they forced the family in a nearby compound.

“All the militia of the town gathered after a communique that goes like: ‘We got Ngurinzira,” the daughter recalls sadly.

The militia asked him his name, and when he confirmed, they told him: “Stand up and follow us.”

“That all we witnessed, as for his death, and his remains’ whereabouts, we really don’t know,” she said.

“We only heard that they took him to Umunyinya village just to be killed by Interahamwe from Gatenga on April 11.”

She also learned that the notorious hate Radio RTLM rejoiced his death on April 12, 1994.

After taking Ngurinzira, the children and their mother only knelt down and prayed to surrender their life to God.

In evening, a well wisher took them, and went to hide them for a while and he continued to pass them from a family to another.

“The last home we went to was of a widow. She really sacrificed a lot, she used to spy on Interahamwe to see whether they didn’t have information about us. In the end, they happened to know and told her that they would decimate her family, would they find us in her home. We left the place hopelessly,” she said.

End of April, a well wisher took Ngurinzira’s family to the sister’s of Calcutta in Sainte Famille Parish. They stayed around until June.

Early July, the family which had lost contact with their brother went out in effort to try and reconnect with him, and at that time, they were seized by Interahamwe in evening. They put them in a cell and promised to kill them the following morning.

“That very morning, they run away before killing us when the Rwanda Patriotic Army(RPA) Inkotanyi opened fire on them,” the witness narrates.

Many refused to help them, including clerics, but they wondered until Gisenyi where they fortunately reconnected with their brother Cyril and crossed to Goma together.

In Goma, their mother learnt about the French contingents in Mission Tricquoise whom she asked to evacuate them.

“She told them, I am Ngurinzira widow, with my children. Please save us otherwise the killers will find us here and finish us,” she recalls.

That time, they chased them away, until the following morning when the mother returned and a French officer who was an observer in Arusha negotiations recognized them.

They asked the family where they wished to go and their choice was Belgium where the mother had studied and expected to be able to find her way out.

“Unfortunately, the same people who helped us through, are the same people who are giving our killers self haven,” she said.

On July 15, Ngurinzira’s family arrived in Belgium and applied for refugee status, and the family continued to find out why the International community abandoned them. In 2004, they took the Kingdom of Belgium to Court for having abandoned the people in Rwanda for abandoning the people to interahamwe, for segragation, for exposing Ngurinzira,

They took to court three Belgian commanders for accepting to abandon people in danger which is against military instructions.

In primary court, Ngurinzira’s family won the trial, but in appeal, they lost the case and decided to rest the case.

Memories of the father

Ngurinzira’s children have a lot in memory of the father as a very caring dad, who was very serious when it comes to excelling in school.

The last born recalls that the father had taught him French and when the Genocide started, he was starting English courses, while the first born recalls that his father used to encourage him to excel in Mathematics.

“Until the time he died, I was struggling. Now that I am doing really well in Mathematics, he is not there to watch my success,” said the first born of the family.

The first born,Uwukuri Ngurinzira Cyrilo not only mastered languages, but also has become a writer.

Olivia Isaro Ngurinzira also recalls that her father once called her and told her: “Your job is to study heard, not to try.”

“We keep the legacy of refusing injustice, fighting for the truth and loving our country,” Isaro Ngurinzira said.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Ngurinzira was also the head of Rwanda’s delegation at the Arusha negotiation which, the ruling party-MRND ended up taking for granted, and called them “Ngurinzira’s negotiation.”

Member of MDR, he fought against injustice and abuse of power in Rwanda during the era of multipartism which was marked a leadership and political crisis in Rwanda.

“My father was prosecuted until we were cursed in our commune of origin. We were denied our right to origin,” Uwukuri Ngurinzira said.

He thanked the government of national unity which restored the dignity of all Rwandans.

At the conclusion of Kwibuka30 week, nine names of politicians who were added on the list of those who were killed during the Genocide against Tutsi for fighting the discrimination and other wrongdoings of the Government that prepared and executed the Genocide were read.

Ngurinzira is on the list that is written in Rebero Genocide memorial. Some of the victims lay to rest at the memorial.

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