‘The last Tutsi to be killed’: Survivor recounts Tutsi’s perilous journey at Nzaratsi Hill named ‘Calvary’

By Elias Hakizimna.

Charles Habonimana was considered the last Tutsi who would be killed after all Tutsi were terminated as Interahamwe had a plan to hang him in a tree to show the next generation of Hutu how a Tutsi looked like.

Through testimonies, survivors have recounted the hazardous journey of Tutsi who were killed at Nzaratsi Hill of Mbuye Sector in Ruhango District, Southern Province.

The hill was finally named ‘Calvary’ by Interahamwe militia as they had to take every Tutsi to that hill before they kill them.

According to the bible, Calvary refers to a site (hill) on which Jesus was crucified with two malefactors and suffered brutal torture inflicted by the then cruel humans.

Habonimana from an area called Mayunzwe, was among the Tutsi who were forced to go up that hill.  

Tutsi experienced hurdles at Nzaratsi, the hillside that was named Calvary and they were massacred while innocent, falling victims of the way they were created by God, which could in no way, be the reason to lose their lives.

Fortunately, Habonimana survived and is still alive.

Habonimana narrated his sorrowful testimony in his book dubbed ‘Moi Le Dernier Tutsi’ loosely translated as “Me, The Last Tutsi”.  

Charles Habonimana narrating how he survived and the reason to write a book ‘Moi le Dernier Tutsi’/ Photo by Elias Hakizimana.

The 1994 genocide perpetrated against the Tutsi in Rwanda was terrible and the worst in the World as it claimed a million people within only 100 days. This tragedy also inflicted severe wounds – both physical and psychological – to survivors, and ripped the Rwandan society apart.

“I was survived from Mayunzwe here. I was twelve-year-old during the Genocide. I was born from a family of eight children and I had all my parents. My six brothers, sisters and parents were killed and I and my elder sister survived,” he said. 

Charles Habonimana, is alive, his six brothers, sisters and parents were killed, he wrote a book of his tragic journey. The book is in a Museum of Mayunzwe genocide memorial site/ Elias Hakizimana.

“I survived because killers decided to kill me the last as they decided to kill the last two Tutsi, the male and female, after all others, and hang them to show the next generation of Hutu how a Tutsi looked like,” he narrated.

“That gave me an inspiration to write a book ‘Moi Le Dernier Tutsi’ recently launched in March,” Habonimana said.

He tried to seek refugee but finally came out as he knew he would be killed at last. Nzaratsi hill has a special history of Tutsi massacres as no one could be killed without being taken to the hill.

Inside Mayunzwe Genocide memorial site: Minister Soraya Hakuziyaremye and other Government Officials were listening to Habonimana’s tragic story and other survivors’ from Mayunzwe/Photo by Jerome Munyentwali

Habonimana shared the testimony on May 4, 2019 during the commemoration of 1994 genocide against the Tutsi when different survivors from this location paid tribute to the victims laid to rest in that place.

Over 950 victims were killed there, and later genocide ideology lingered among some citizens, according to accounts from survivors.

According to Valens Habarurema, the Mayor of Ruhango District, seven people were arrested for having genocide ideology since kwibuka25 began. 

Down Nzaratsi Hillside, people stand at the place where was a tree in which they planed to hang Habonimana and another woman as a memory to show the next Hutu generation how a Tutsi looked like.

He said the district will increase efforts to comfort survivors and fight against genocide ideology.  

Jean Baptiste Iragena who was 27-year-old in 1994 also survived. He said that the nowadays relationship with families who killed their relatives has improved despite some who still have genocide ideology.

Business people from Mayunzwe in Ruhango had a big role in Killing Tutsi, but are still reluctant to participate in commemoration and helping genocide survivors according to Ibuka representative in Ruhango District.

Soraya Hakuziyaremye, Minister of Trade and Industries (MINICOM) who was at the commemoration event said that Habonima’s book should educate many people about the genocide history and help them strive for Never Again Genocide.  

Minister of Trade and Industry Soraya Hakuziyaremye laying a wreath to the victims’ mass grave at Mayunzwe genocide memorial site as she pays them tribute on May 4, 2019.

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Contact the author @theinspirerpubl / @philos4hakizi

 

 

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Elias Hakizimana

Elias Hakizimana, CEO&Founder of The Inspirer Ltd,(www.rwandainspirer.com) is a professional Rwandan Journalist with Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Communication, received from University of Rwanda’s College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS) in 2014. He served various media houses in Rwanda including Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA) in 2013 and became passionate with English Online and Print Media Publications where he exercised his talent as a Freelance News Reporter for The New Times, The Independent, The Rwanda Focus, Panorama and more before he became a Self-Entrepreneur as the CEO and Founder of The Inspirer Limited in early 2017.

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