As midwife for Muhima sector in Nyarugenge, Kigali, Thérèse
Nyirabayovu was held in high esteem by the local community. Her
decision to give shelter to Tutsis was based on her belief that it
was ³a duty to save fellow human beings in danger.² Thérèse, who was
then aged 67, had no strength but her own moral stature to rely upon.
But she was so well respected that when the news spread that she was
hiding people, even the interahamwe were reluctant to attack her home.
Thérèse is a widowed peasant farmer with four surviving children who
backed her in her efforts to preserve lives. They did all they could
to meet the needs of the 18 people who hid at her house at one time
or another during the genocide. Thérèse also took food to refugees
who were staying at the nearby church of Ste. Famille.
Thérèse was made aware of the risk she was taking on a number of
occasions_her home was searched, she was questioned repeatedly, and a
grenade was thrown at her house. The danger persisted even after the
genocide. While staying in the refugee camps in the former Zaire,
Thérèse was under constant threat from the militiamen who had heard
of her actions. Odette Mukakarera told of how Thérèse helped her and
underlined the gratitude she will always feel towards this remarkable
Thérèse has always been well known for her courage, her generosity
and her skill as a midwife. She has always been poor, especially
since she was widowed and had so many children to look after. But her
poverty never got in the way of her humane impulses.
Thérèse and her children hid us for nearly two months,
knowing very well they were risking their lives if anyone ever found
Dr Wolfgang Blam
The few outsiders who tried to help during the darkest days of the
genocide have a special place in the hearts of survivors. Dr Wolfgang
Blam, a German doctor, was one such man. He had lived in Rwanda for
many years and, by April 1994, he was in charge of rural medicine for
the préfecture of Kibuye and worked in the operating theatre in
Dr Blam speaks fluent Kinyarwanda and is married to Jacqueline, with
whom he has a son, born only two months before the genocide. He was
seen to be without prejudice, working with, treating and socialising
with people of different ethnic and political backgrounds. Dr Blam
refused to leave with the other expatriates; he would not abandon his
wife, a Tutsi, or his duties. He lived through the terror unleashed
upon the people of Kibuye and was a source of strength and
encouragement for those he met, showing tremendous care and
Dr Blam and his colleague, Dr Léonard Hitimana, now a
parliamentarian, worked under extremely difficult conditions as the
massacres began in Kibuye. Their skills were in demand and they used
them to look after Tutsi relatives, friends, patients and refugees.
They sought to protect as well as treat the sick and wounded who
flooded into the hospital. They also went to Gatwaro stadium to tend
to the thousands of people who had come from Kibuye town and the
neighbouring communes. Along with other staff from the hospital and
the Red Cross, they strove to better the desperate conditions there.
Sadly, the refugees at the stadium and at the hospital were the
victims of regular atrocities. Death had become inevitable for most
of the Tutsis of Kibuye, but the doctors cared for them regardless.
Dr Blam looked after Ann-Marie Mukantabana, then aged 14, who came to
the hospital after her family was massacred. She remembers how he
used to beg the interahamwe to leave his patients alone, adding:
He was totally committed. We survivors will never forget him, even
though he is not here now to hear how grateful we are to him.
Although he was a foreigner, he intervened to help us when our own
brothers were massacring us.
Father Joseph Boneza, Father Dieudonné Rwakabayiza
and Father Ignace Kabera
Three young priests devoted themselves to the refugees at the Parish
of Mibilizi in Cyimbogo, Cyangugu, an area devastated by the
genocide. Fr. Joseph Boneza and Fr. Ignace Kabera, who are Tutsi, and
Fr. Dieudonné Rwakabayiza, a Hutu, all refused to be evacuated when
the parish came under siege, despite calls from the Bishop of
Cyangugu asking them to join him. The refugees at Mibilizi suffered a
series of horrific assaults by the interahamwe, and the majority of
them lost their lives, but the priests did not waver. Together they
showed a unity of spirit and purpose which defied the ideology of
ethnic hatred. The priests were aware of the dangers involved in
looking after the refugees, but they continued to bring them food,
money and comfort, with the aid of a nun, Sister Bernadette.
Because of his prominent role, Fr. Boneza soon became a direct target
of the militia himself. As he tried to flee, Fr. Boneza was pulled
from the car in which he was travelling and murdered by militiamen.
Both before and after Fr. Boneza¹s death, Fr. Dieudonné and Fr.
Ignace showed that they too possessed tremendous strength and
sympathy. Virginie Uwanyirigira was among those who sought shelter at
I can¹t find the words to praise the courage of Fr. Ignace, Fr.
Boneza and Fr. Dieudonné highly enough. These priests chose to put
themselves in the firing line. Even though the bishop came to take
them away, they refused to take the easy way out. They chose instead
to help us to resist and struggle to the death against the
interahamwe. The worth of these priests is beyond understanding. We
have come to the conclusion that they had special qualities which God
doesn¹t give to ordinary people.
Ladislas Uzabakiriho was the councillor for Kinzuzi sector, in Mbogo
commune, Greater Kigali. It was due to his efforts that most of the
Tutsis in this sector were spared the suffering of 1994. Ladislas
succeeded in building a sense of unity among the people of Kinzuzi
that was so strong it was capable of withstanding the genocide. He
refused to collaborate with the other local officials planning the
killings, although he was under intense pressure to do so. He ensured
that the Hutus of Kinzuzi fought on behalf of their Tutsi neighbours.
The story of this community and its councillor is a model for lasting
peace in Rwanda.
Ladislas Uzabakiriho showed foresight and intelligence in his
management of the crisis in 1994. He argued against the rumours and
propaganda designed to promote the killings and encouraged the
residents of Kinzuzi to recognise the evil of the genocide and to
defend their sector against it. They did so, but both Ladislas and
the other Hutus endured threats and beatings from the interahamwe,
leaving some of them permanently disabled. Today, both the genocide
survivors, and the Hutus from Kinzuzi who stood by them, are deeply
grateful to Ladislas Uzabakiriho for the fortitude and solidarity
that he lived by and inspired in others. Ladislas died in the
Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where he had gone during the
mass exodus of July 1994. His loss is felt by all in Kinzuzi. Cassien
Havugimana, the current councillor, expressed deep admiration and
respect for his predecessor, who is also the man ultimately
responsible for saving his life.
Ladislas Uzabakiriho was a kind man, able to understand all points of
view. He knew how to settle any dispute between people without taking
sides. He was a very active man, keen to see progress in his commune,
and especially in his own sector. He had united all the residents of
Kinzuzi so that the sector was never torn apart by violence. When
there were problems caused by social divisions, he was able to solve
Father Baudouin Busunyu
Many people threatened by militia violence in Kamembe, Cyangugu, took
refuge at the Parish of Nkanka. Sadly they did not find security
there, but they did discover a priest who cared deeply about their
fate and was prepared to risk his life for them, Fr Baudouin Busunyu.
Fr. Busunyu was constrained in his ability to act independently. He
had no control over the resources of the parish and operated in
secret, against the wishes of the parish priest and those of members
of his own family. His father, Michel Busunyu, was an interahamwe
leader who would have been enraged to learn of his activities, while
the parish priest had also been won over to the genocide cause.
Despite all this, the priest did his best to tackle the threats and
problems experienced by the refugees. He offered them sympathy and
understanding as well as practical assistance. He worked with a
network of priests evacuating Tutsis across the border to Bukavu in
the DRC. He walked with the refugees to Lake Kivu and paid boatmen to
ferry them to Bukavu, accompanying some of them to their destination
to ensure they were safe before returning home. On his way back from
one of these trips, Fr. Busunyu was caught by a militia patrol on
Lake Kivu. He was beaten up but bribed the militiamen to release him.
This incident only strengthened the priest¹s resolve and he continued
delivering Tutsis to safety until the end of the genocide.
Knowing that his father was a leading militiaman, and sharing the
same name, Fr. Busunyu felt it necessary to leave the country with
the RPF takeover of power, unsure of what it would bring. However, it
was while in the refugee camps in the DRC that he was killed. The
genocide survivors who owe him their lives do not know the
circumstances of Fr. Busunyu¹s death, but they mourn his loss and
cherish his memory. Micheline Mukayiranga voiced their sentiments.
Fr. Baudouin Busunyu showed us how God¹s work should be carried out.
He cared for us in our worst moments and helped those most in need.
We Christians of Nkanka are praying that God will accept him among
the saints. His courage during the genocide was almost superhuman, as
he would have been killed if they had caught him saving Tutsis.
Bourgmestres have control over security in the commune and a
responsibility to safeguard residents. But like many local
administrative officials, they often became key organisers of the
genocide in 1994. Under orders from the government to ensure that the
Tutsi population in their area was wiped out, any official found to
be resisting the killings was deemed a traitor and punished. Callixte
Ndagijimana was a rare example of a bourgmestre prepared to risk his
own position and his life to defy the authorities. His presence
ensured that the people of Mugina united against the violence
encroaching from across their borders. He acted with strength and
commitment in his battle against the interahamwe. He extended a warm
welcome to the hundreds of panic-stricken refugees who came from the
surrounding region. He gave food and supplies to Tutsis sheltering at
the Parish of Mugina, and toured all sectors of the commune to spread
a message of peace among its residents. When the interahamwe invaded
the commune and divided Hutus from Tutsis, Ndagijimana did not give
in. He alone remained with the Tutsis, defending them personally, and
with the backing of the communal police force.
Because Ndagijimana exemplified duty and brotherhood, he was ambushed
and killed on 21 April. Without his leadership, resistance to the
genocide in Mugina crumbled and the massacres of Tutsis began that
evening. Concilie Kampire¹s husband and children were among those
killed at the local Catholic parish.
Callixte died without even leaving a child to carry on his memory. He
was so brave. I don¹t think there was anyone else in the whole of
Gitarama préfecture who could have done what he did. He gave his life
for us. We can only ask the government to put his name among the
ranks of our national heroes because he died for love of his fellow
citizens and for his country. When we commemorate the loss of our
loved ones on 21 and 22 April 1994, we also say prayers to God for
Father Oscar Nkundayezu
In the midst of a crisis, Fr. Oscar Nkundayezu dedicated himself to
the welfare of others. He did not hesitate to risk his own life for
those who fled to the Parish of Cyangugu in Kamembe commune. Fr.
Nkundayezu was practical and energetic in his efforts to find food,
water and medical treatment for the refugees who gathered at his
parish. Although he could not drive, he quickly learnt to do so when
it became necessary to distribute food to the displaced people at
Kamarampaka stadium, the site of repeated abductions and massacres.
He visited them on a daily basis to celebrate mass with them and to
keep their spirits up. At the nearby cathedral, Fr. Nkundayezu¹s
organizational skills were behind the establishment of a makeshift
hospital which was also used as a hiding place for those most at
risk; the ruse saved people. Even when all the refugees at
Kamarampaka stadium had been settled at Nyarushishi, which was some
distance from the parish, Fr. Oscar continued his daily visits. Fr.
Nkundayezu¹s single-minded approach was a key factor in the
establishment of network in Cyangugu to smuggle Tutsis across Lake
Kivu into the DRC. He contributed to fundraising and establishing
connections across the border. He persuaded some local people,
including a former member of the interahamwe, to transport the
refugees to safety. He took some of the refugees to the lakeshore
himself and gave them letters of introduction to his contacts in the
Fr. Nkundayezu became ill some years ago and went to Italy for
treatment; he has now returned to Rwanda where he continues to
advocate for peace and justice. Béata Mukamusoni recalled how the
priest found food for the refugees at the parish, which she
distributed. She spoke of Fr. Nkundayezu¹s many virtues.
Fr. Oscar is well known for his simplicity and for his opposition to
all forms of evil, particularly discrimination. He sacrificed his own
needs for those of the refugees; the other priests living at the same
cathedral didn¹t do anywhere as much. He helps those in need and is
not afraid to do so even when there are risks to his own safety.
At the St. Pierre Centre in the diocese of Nyundo, Gisenyi, Félicitée
Niyitegeka was one of the leaders of a community called the
Auxiliaries de l¹Apostolat (church assistants). A group of Hutu and
Tutsi girls were staying at St. Pierre when the violence erupted in
April 1994. Félicitée recognised the dangers immediately. She kept a
close watch over the girls, guarding them against the threat of
attack from outside and ensuring that tensions did not develop within
the community. She alone would answer the telephone and open the
door so that the presence of Tutsi girls at the centre would not be
Félicitée was successful in isolating the St. Pierre
community for some time. It became a haven for refugees too fearful
of remaining at home. Many of them were wounded and Félicitée went in
search of medicine to treat them. She also began evacuating the most
vulnerable across the border into the DRC, but the interahamwe
discovered her plans and put an end to this endeavour.
Félicitée was given an opportunity to leave when her brother,
a senior military commander based in a nearby military camp, sent a
vehicle and an escort of soldiers to evacuate her, but she refused to
desert the refugees. The following day, the interahamwe came to the
centre to abduct the Tutsi girls. Knowing they were being taken to
their deaths, Félicitée insisted on accompanying them. She led them
in song and prayer until their final moments; then she too was
murdered. The survivors of Nyundo give thanks for her courage and her
strength of character. Immaculée Tuyisenge was among the abducted
girls, and is a rare survivor of this massacre. She believes
Félicitée should be canonised. Immaculée spoke of the lessons she
drew from Félicitée¹s teaching.
I saw in Félicitée a mother beyond comparison. Her teaching was
irreproachable and her advice unlimited. Félicitée was a real heroine
to the point that she even agreed to give up her own life for the
people of Rwanda and to die for them. We will always keep the memory
of what she did for us in our hearts. We pray that God will welcome
her into his kingdom. I personally think she should be proclaimed a
Gabriel Mvunganyi was an elderly and deeply religious man who
rejected the politics of ethnic division and was resented for this
stance even before the genocide. There were few Tutsis in his home
area of Ngoma sector, commune Mbogo, Greater Kigali, but when an
outbreak of ethnic violence threatened their lives in 1992, Mvunganyi
did all he could for them, enabling them to evade capture. Resentment
of Mvunganyi for his stand at this time was made worse by his refusal
to join any of the political parties which sprang up in the early
1990s and sought to recruit him.
By 1994, the interahamwe were aware of Mvunganyi¹s sympathy for the
plight of the Tutsis. He was seen as a threat to collective support
for the killings. The militia searched his house on a daily basis.
Despite this he hid two Tutsi girls for several days. Hostility
towards Mvunganyi remained intense throughout the genocide and he was
afraid to leave his home. But towards the end of May, he went out
with his daughter. On his way home he was spotted by soldiers, who
were among the perpetrators of the genocide in the area. They
persecuted and humiliated him, then shot him dead. Pascasie Mukarora,
a neighbour, spoke with admiration of Gabriel Mvunganyi¹s character.
Gabriel died because of his kindness and decency. He was an elderly
man known for his honesty, and respected by all his neighbours. He
was friendly with everyone regardless of their ethnic group.
Jean Marie-Vianney Gisagara
The leaders of the genocide in Butare and surrounding areas were
incensed by the strong stand bourgmestre Jean Marie-Vianney Gisagara
took against violence in Nyabisindu, Butare. At the first sign of
trouble he intervened to defend the Tutsis of his commune. Hearing of
an attack in Nyarusange sector, he took the police and defeated the
interahamwe, making several arrests. Later, he instructed local
councillors to resist the demands of the génocidaires and appealed
for calm. As the threat to his own life increased, Gisagara must have
known that the task he had set himself was both hopeless and
extremely dangerous, but he remained firm. Eventually he was forced
into hiding, but he was soon found and savagely killed.
As a warning of what would happen to Hutus who tried to extend a
helping hand to Tutsis, Gisagara was tied to a van and dragged
through the streets of his home sector of Nyanza. Eleven members of
his family, including his parents, siblings and wife, were also
killed. They were among the first victims of the interahamwe in
Nyanza. Following Gisagara¹s death, the genocide went ahead unopposed
in Nyabisindu. Pélagie Mukantagara, Gisagara¹s aunt, hopes that
Gisagara¹s actions will be remembered by many.
Gisagara was a brave man who kept the people of Nyanza united.
Unfortunately the interahamwe got the better of him and murdered both
him and his family. His name should be remembered for posterity.
Father Célestin Hakizimana
St. Paul¹s Pastoral Centre in Kigali became a refuge for around 2000
people during the genocide. Most of them survived because Fr.
Célestin Hakizimana intervened at every attempt by the militia to
abduct or murder them. He was unable to prevent the deaths of all the
refugees, but even in the face of powerful opposition he tried to
hold off the killers with persuasion or bribes. He stood face-to-face
with some of the leading perpetrators of genocide in Kigali and
argued that the people staying at his church were not guilty of any
crime and did not deserve any punishment.
Fr. Hakizimana took care of the refugees¹ physical needs at a time
when all resources were in short supply. He brought them food and
water, although on one occasion he was shot at as he went to fetch
the water. He kept the refugees alive single-handedly. He called for
help, but when none was forthcoming he defended the refugees, despite
Many of the people Fr. Hakizimana rescued had only met him during
their brief stay at St Paul¹s, but some of them remember and pay
tribute to him each year at the time of their escape. For the
survivors of St Paul¹s he more than fulfilled all their hopes and
expectations. He remains a source of inspiration and of faith, as
Sylvérien Mudenge, a survivor, explained.
He sacrificed his own needs in order to watch over us. The proof is
the number of people who were at St. Paul¹s who survived. There were
more than 1,500. His courage should be praised and news of it spread
far and wide. He hasn¹t changed a bit. He still has the love, the
charity, in a word the heart that he showed in our time of need.
A traditional healer from sector Musamo, commune Ntongwe in Gitarama,
Sula Karuhimbi, shielded some of her neighbours from the interahamwe
and assisted several other potential victims. She is a 75-year-old
widow, described by local residents as a friendly and generous woman.
Sula, who is generally known as ³Mama Domitille², hid Tutsis on her
own property and challenged the militia who came to search for them.
She is a farmer and fed the people she hid with the produce of her
own fields, housing them in a shelter she had made for the animals.
The fact that she had few resources and looked vulnerable made Sula
an unlikely protector, deflecting attention from her house. After a
time, the interahamwe came to suspect she was harbouring Tutsis, but
she denied it vehemently. She used her reputation as a healer to
convince the militiamen that she could command evil spirits and they
feared her. Sula turned away the militia on several occasions,
braving gunfire and threats.
Since the genocide, Sula has remained a staunch opponent of the
perpetrators of the genocide, testifying against them. Sula says she
finds it difficult to understand why other people in her community
did not make similar efforts to resist the genocide. Hassan
Habiyakare found sanctuary at her home. He still visits her regularly
She made everyone welcome, even strangers. Karuhimbi found different
hiding places for us all, so it is hard to say exactly how many
people she saved. I ended up at their house after wandering about all
over the place. During the genocide, the Tutsis had no hesitation in
fleeing to Karuhimbi¹s house. All the people she hid are alive today.
I find her an amazing old lady. Her courage during the genocide was
unequalled. Very few people could have done what she did.
A shopkeeper from Muhazi in Kibungo, Paul Kamanzi was a rare
individual whose loyalty to his friends far exceeded their
expectations. A Hutu whose own brothers were sympathetic to the
extremist cause, Kamanzi severed his ties to his community and to his
family during the genocide. He did so because he was unable to live
alongside people who were either involved in the killings or who were
not prepared to try and prevent them. Kamanzi felt such deep anger
and horror about the genocide and its perpetrators that he wanted to
do all he could to distance himself from them. Even death, he
believed, would be preferable to living with the people responsible
for the slaughter of innocents. It was an uncompromising stance and
one that tragically cost him his life.
From the outset, he did all he could to thwart the génocidaires. He
informed the Tutsis he knew about the intentions of the interahamwe
and tried to find them hideouts. Some stayed in his shop. He looked
to his father for support but was rejected. So Kamanzi chose to stay
with his friends as a refugee in the commune office. On 15 April, the
interahamwe, members of the Presidential Guard and policemen went
into action against the refugees; Kamanzi fought alongside them.
Kamanzi was shot by the interahamwe as he was trying to escape with
the survivors from Muhazi. Kamanzi¹s compassion and empathy were so
profound that he was unable to put his own survival before that of
others. His memory lives on in the hearts of the survivors of Muhazi,
among them Jean Rutaysire.
Kamanzi was kind and thoughtful. His behaviour was an example to the
rest of us. He cared about everyone regardless of their origins. He
showed that when he chose to die for us Tutsis in company with our
Father Jean-Bosco Munyaneza
In Fr. Jean-Bosco Munyaneza, the refugees at the Parish of Mukarange
in Muhazi, Kibungo, found a leader who organised their struggle to
survive; a man of God who gave them the courage to face their deaths;
and an inspirational human being who was prepared to die on their
behalf. Refugees flocked to the parish in their thousands from 7 April
onwards. Fr. Jean-Bosco lived up to their hopes, offering sanctuary,
food and spiritual comfort. He worked tirelessly to accommodate and
assist them, but could not prevent the attacks upon the parish from
10 April. In the two days that followed, the refugees were to suffer
one assault after another with the combined forces of the
interahamwe, gendarmes and government officials from surrounding
regions ranged against them. In that time, Fr. Jean-Bosco Munyaneza
worked hand in hand with his Tutsi colleague, Fr. Joseph Gatare, to
organise resistance to the slaughter, resorting to throwing stones at
the assailants himself, when all else failed. He had several
opportunities to leave, but would not desert the refugees. As a
result he was brutally murdered. The massacre in which Fr. Jean-Bosco
died also claimed the lives of most of the refugees at the parish.
The few survivors commemorate the deaths of their loved ones every
year on 12 April and they make special mention of the priest, whom
they believe is worthy of sainthood. Gilbert Nkurayija underlined the
nature and meaning of Fr. Jean-Bosco¹s sacrifice.
Fr. Munyaneza gave his life for us. He chose to die for us when he
had every opportunity to stay alive. He showed the kind of love you
don¹t often find. He did all he could possibly have done to save us,
but in vain. Even then, he didn¹t leave us to die alone but stayed
with us even in death. We pray for his soul and remember him as we
would one of our loved ones who are dead.
Father Jean-Pierre Ngoga
The story of how Fr. Jean-Pierre Ngoga tried to prevent the slaughter
of the refugees at the Parish of Kibeho is of a hopeless but
admirable struggle against impossible odds. Although as many as
30,000 refugees congregated at the parish, they were unarmed and no
match for the thousands of killers, including armed gendarmes, who
were determined to crush them. As a Tutsi, and a defiant individual
who challenged important local officials and genocide leaders face to
face, Fr. Ngoga was under constant threat. He was remarkable in his
readiness to disregard his own safety while striving to keep others
alive. Kibeho is in Mubuga commune, Gikongoro but people also fled from
the surrounding areas. Fr. Ngoga made the refugees welcome. When
the interahamwe stormed the parish, Fr. Ngoga and the refugees fought
back. He had the chance to slip away, but chose to remain. After
several raids on the parish, militiamen and gendarmes united to
commit a huge-scale massacre on 14 April, eliminating almost the
entire Tutsi community of the area. In the aftermath, Fr. Ngoga
advised all the survivors to leave the parish and he took some of
them with him to Butare in search of safety. He was later discovered
there, imprisoned and murdered. Although the circumstances of the
priest¹s death are yet to be fully uncovered, his defence of the
refugees at the Parish of Kibeho was one of the reasons he was hunted
down. Fr. Ngoga deserves a place of honour in the history of the
Catholic Church in Rwanda, as the survivors of Kibeho testify.
Emmanuel Kaberuka listed the priest¹s admirable qualities.
He was a very good priest. He never hid the truth, but always said
what he thought. He never lost hope. He encouraged us to take on the
interahamwe and fight them off. Ngoga sacrificed his life for ours
during the genocide. The news of Pierre Ngoga¹s death was a great
blow for me.
Father Vieko Curic
When the killings began in Kivumu, people turned to Fr. Vieko Curic
for help. This expatriate priest from the former Yugoslavia had lived
in Nyamabuye, Gitarama for more than ten years, and had long worked
to promote development in the area. He was well known and loved by
his congregation and his decision to remain in Rwanda during the
genocide brought him to the heart of the local community. When most
other expatriates were evacuated, Fr. Vieko stood by the people of
Kivumu during the worst experiences of their lives. He gave practical
and medical assistance to the displaced and enabled some to escape.
Fr. Vieko was outspoken in his condemnation of the violence and
continued to preach the values of peace and unity throughout the
genocide. He was threatened on several occasions by the interahamwe,
but he held firm. In the aftermath, Fr. Vieko demonstrated his
impartiality, helping both Hutus and Tutsis to rebuild their
communities. The homes and buildings Fr. Vieko helped to fund are
still standing in Kivumu today, but sadly the priest himself is no
longer there. He was killed in January 1998 in Kigali by unknown
assailants. People in Kivumu and elsewhere in Rwanda feel distressed
and impoverished by the loss of Fr. Vieko. He was a caring man who
touched the lives of the people around him and enriched them, as is
evident from the words of Espérance Mujawamariya.
Fr. Vieko spared no effort to help us before, during and after the
genocide. We shall always remember his kindness and compassion. We
miss him. The other expatriates abandoned the Rwandese, but he did
not. That should also be noted and put to his credit. We shall
always appreciate him, and we pray for him.
In the intense climate of hatred, fear and suspicion that was
manufactured after the death of President Juvénal Habyarimana on 6
April 1994, all norms were subverted. It was no longer possible to
identify friends and enemies on the basis of past experience and no
one knew whom to trust. The men and women singled out in this book
proved themselves worthy of the faith of the desperate people who
turned to them for help. They showed love, compassion and integrity,
preserving human values as well as lives against the destruction of
the genocide. Tribute to Courage contains suggestions for practical
initiatives to identify and celebrate Rwanda¹s heroes addressed to
the people and Government of Rwanda, and to the wider international
community. Rwanda needs to acknowledge, honour and to build upon
their legacy. The challenges of trying to build a nation at peace
with itself demand the application of similar courage in all areas of
public and private life. They should also be remembered and cherished
by all those seeking tolerance and justice around the world.
The stories in Tribute to Courage are a reminder not only of Rwanda¹s
forgotten heroes, but also of the many other Africans who, with
tenacity and resourcefulness, battle against oppression, human rights
abuses, poverty, conflict, hunger or disease. Theirs are often silent
victories. These people commonly go without recognition. African
Rights has encountered several other such people through its work. We
have therefore decided to offer an annual tribute for courage,
acknowledging values and achievements of the kind exemplified by the
heroes of this book and named in remembrance of one of them, Paul