In April 1994 when the genocide against Tutsi started in Rwanda, Theoneste Muzungu was a 15 year old boy. He and his family lived in former Mwulire Sector of former Bicumbi ‘Commune’ currently Rwamagana District.
Muzungu remembers well that when the plane carrying former Rwanda’s President was shot down on April 6th, 1994, it was in holidays few days after Easter day.
After the plane clash, Bicumbi Commune ‘bourgoumestre’, Semanza, called all the sector leaders and gave them guns to kill Tutsi in their respective sectors.
However, one ‘conseiller’ called Bakundukize who led former Mwulire Sector refused to receive the gun and this made Tutsis who lived in neighboring sectors like Rubona, Mabare and Gahengeri flee to Mwulire Sector and gathered at Ruhogo Swamp.
At Ruhogo Swamp, thousands of men, women and children, led by Guido Karangwa who is remembered like a hero in Mwulire, resisted the attacks led by the Interahamwe militias who wanted to kill them.
“Children and women collected stones which were used to fight back the Interahamwe armed with both traditional and modern weapons,” recounts Muzungu who is now the Vice President of Ibuka in Mwulire Sector.
Muzungu says that they fought Interahamwe and until April 18th when the militias acquired help from Kigali because they thought the population who had resisted for such a long time ‘were mixed with RPA Inkotanyi soldiers.’
The army including the Republican guards from Kigali came with ‘heavy weapons’ and fired heavy bombs on the Tutsis who had resisted for almost two weeks. A number of up to 15000 people died on spot.
“I’m one of those who survived in Mwulire. RPF Inkotanyi arrived in Mwulire on April 20th, 1994 and stopped the killings,” said Muzungu.
Muzungu was telling his survival story on Tuesday to the staff of Saham Insurance Company who visited Mwulire Genocide memorial site in which rests the bodies of 26853 Tutsi innocent victims.
Besides visiting the Mwulire Memorial site and laying flowers to honor the victims who rest in there, the Saham Insurance Company visited two houses it rebuilt for two genocide survivors.
Fidele Ruzibiza 76, survived the genocide at Mwulire. He was given a house in 1996 but recently it had been almost completely destroyed.
“Part of my house had fallen down and I lived a very bad life because the rain could fall on me in the night. It was renovated plus they built for me a toilet, a kitchen and a bathroom which my house didn’t have before,” said Ruzibiza.
Another house built through the support given by Saham Insurance Company belongs to Celestin Shumbusho aged 50.
Shumbusho said that his house was badly destroyed; ” I thank Saham very much for having reconstructed my house. It is a good house with all the necessary house tools and electricity inside and water,” he said.
The beneficiaries were given three beds, three mattresses and three pairs of bed sheets, each. Their families were also given home utensils including jerry cans, basins, buckets and mops.
Betty Sayinzoga, the Chief Executive Officer of Saham Life Insurance Rwanda, said that the two families were chosen after the authorities of Mwulire Sector identified them as families who needed help the most.
“We were looking for an opportunity to give back to society and we chose Rwamagana. It could have been any other place. When we asked what was the urgent thing we could do, with the help of the local authorities, our people identified two houses that were almost completely destroyed and people were still living inside them.”
“Considering how heavy the last rainy season was, we decided to help these people sleep in decent houses with all the necessary things to make sure that we bring back the decency to their lives,” she said.
Sayinzoga added; “Every year, in commemoration days, we do something that could be felt by those who survived and this is what we did. It’s in order, [for Saham Insurance] to help heal the wounds left by the genocide and take survivors’ hand in the journey to development of the society”.