Nyange Sector is situated in former Kivumu Commune, Birambo Sous-Prefecture, Kibuye Prefecture, currently Ngororero District in Western Province. Kibuye Prefecture was generally recognized for being home to a big number of Tutsi before the Genocide against Tutsi in 1994 but Kivumu commune has relatively few Tutsis compared to Hutus. During and after genocide, Nyange Sector housed various administrative offices. They include Kivumu Commune Head Offices, (iby’Urukiko rwa Kanto) and CODECOKI cooperative whose mission was to spur development in the commune. There was also other developmental activities in the sector including a vibrant trading center, Nyange Health Center, and Nyange Catholic Church Parish under Nyundo Diocese.
HISTORY OF THE CURRENT LOCATION OF NYANGE GENOCIDE MEMORIAL SITE
Nyange sector where the memorial is located is among the sectors that experienced cruel and mass killings in former Kibuye Prefecture. During the genocide, similar to other places in the country, Nyange Parish was regarded as a sacred place where victims would run for safety. It’s been their custom whenever killings happened in this region. However, this time it was different. Tutsis who had camped at the Parish were gruesomely killed.
On April 11, Mayor Gregoire Ndahimana convened a “security meeting” where notable high ranking names were present. These included Father Athanase Seromba who was the Chief Priest at the Parish, and among the deliberations of the meeting included bringing all Tutsi refugees at the same place. Nyange Parish was selected because it was spacious. In the meeting, all sector counsellors were given directives to bring all Tutsis in their respective sectors who were still hiding in their friends’/relatives’ homes. Tutsis had not camped only at sector offices but also at Kivumu Commune offices while others gathered at the Assumption Sisters center, while others were hiding in bushes.
From 14 to 16 April, horrendous killings took place at the Parish. Killers from sorrounding sectors joined in but Tutsis staged fierce resistance using rudimentary weapons including stones and managed to disperse the obstreperous mass of killers. The following morning, killers rallied support from interahamwe militia from as far as Rutsiro, Kibilira and Satinsyi. The church and its compound was full of Tutsis who had sought refuge at the Parish in hope that the priests at the parish will protect them. Tutsis tried to resist as they were used to but this time they were overpowered by an army of militias armed with grenades and other advanced weapons. Due to a big number of dead bodies, plans were drawn for having them burried. Since the bodies were too many to be thrown in a river, three ditches was dug using excavators and trucks and the bodies were dumbed there and the ditches were sealed.
Thereafter, killers returned to the church to finish off those who were hiding therein. They shelled the church with bullets while others used arrows to kill the victims. Upon realizing there’s other way of surviving, they locked themselves inside the church. The killers who had gone mad, decided to use pyroblast to demolish the church to no yield. After several failures, they resolved to bring again the excavators and graders to destroy the church with the Tutsis hiding in it. Father Seromba approved of the suggestion and urged them to do it quickly promising to help in leveling the ground where the church was established and erect a new one.
While machines were demolishing the church, militias were on standby to ensure there’s no tutsi escapes the death. Dead bodies were loaded on trucks and dumped in the nearby pits.
After the Tutsi genocide, the site where the church was established was turned into a memorial site to remember the victims. Ngororero district put up a memorial site at the plece in order to preserve the history of the atrocious acts that happened in this area.
NYANGE AFTER THE GENOCIDE AGAINST THE TUTSI
After the Rwanda Partiotic Front/Army liberated the country in 1994 and established the government of national unity, soldiers loyal to the deposed genocidal regime together with militias carried out some insurgencies mainly in areas bordering former Zaire. Members of the militia group were perpetrators of the genocide mainly Interahamwe and genocidal government soldiers whose motif was to return and finsh the “job” they had started.
On March 18, 1997, the militia attacked a school at Nyange and demanded students to separate basing on their ethnic tribe, Hutus on one side and Tutsis on the other. After the students objected to the demand, the militia was full of rage and sprayed bullets on them killing seven, while forty of them escaped with seven sustaining wounds. These seven victims have been included on the list of national heroes for their heroic act.