As the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission launched reconciliation week on October 1, 10 genocide perpetrators in Rusizi District were reconciled to families whose relatives slaughtered during genocide.

The day also marked the completion of six month programme under Heart Healing initiative organized for perpetrators and survivors. During the period, both parties are taught on their role to make reconciliation effective. Perpetrators would be encouraged to confess their sins and apologize while the survivors are asked to forgive.

Berthe Yamfashije, 51, survived 1994 genocide that took the lives of over one million people in three months only. The survivor lives in Nzahaha sector, Rusizi District. She never believed to smile again after genocide.

Yamfashije’s heart was enclosed with darkness of history that she faced 1994 during genocide against the Tutsi that took life of her beloved husband among other family relatives. Her husband’s death chocked her heart terribly as the killer who was involved in the murder was her paternal uncle.

On the Alter of Mushaka Parish on Sunday,Gratien Nyaminani, is kneeling down as he was also raising his arms up to confess his sins before the congregation. Yamfashije’s family stand beside him listening to Nyaminani (Photo Urinzwenimana Mike )

In front of thousands of believers who packed to capacity at Mushaka Parish to witness reconciliation testimonies in Rusizi District , both parties were given time to testify their journey of reconciliation after genocide.

Yamfashije with emotions continued to narrate the story of how she would feel whenever she thought about Gratien Nyaminani, paternal uncle, who slaughtered her husband.

“I would thank God to have rescued me. However, I didn’t have peace in my heart because I would fear that the killer would kill me too,”she testified.

Nyaminani who jailed and then released for Gacaca courts, had stayed cage on revealing anything about Yamfashije’s husband death. Instead, he would accuse other family relatives to be involved in the victim’s murder.

Gacaca court decided to take the suspect back to prison to end his term. Thereafter, he was released.

Reconciliation counselors helped Nyaminani join a six month programme which step by step transformed him and finally resulted in pushing him to confess and apologize.

“We lived house to house but he wouldn’t dare to confess and apologize because he knew that he had lied. I would ask myself whether Nyaminani did not realize that he had killed my husband.Suprisingly, he preferred to apologize to my sister in –law instead of me and my children. But counselors approached him and transformed his perceptions, Yamfashije said, after counseling process, he dared to confess and asked for forgiveness and I did forgive him, ”Yamfashije added.

Nyaminani standing on the Altar of the parish, he narrated the entire process through which the victim was murdered and he emotionally with loud voice knelt down shouting that, “I confess all my sins before God, congregation and the victims’ family. I will never wish to face the past and I pledge to strive to live in harmony with all people.”

The initiation of Heart Healing was initiated by Fr Ubald Rugirangoga, who was the priest at Mushaka Parish in 2008 and according to the parish officials at least 170 Genocide perpetrators have shown remorse and apologized while 232 survivors forgave.

Thousands of people gathered at Mushaka Parish in Rusizi to witness reconcilaition ceremony of 10 families on Sunday (Urinzwenimana Mike )

According to the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission, reconciliation average reaches 95 per cent with a decrease of hearts’ shocks rate from 11 per cent in 2010 to 4.5 per cent currently.

Every year, October 1 Rwandans observe unity and reconciliation week as an important date since this was the day the Liberation Struggle started 27 years ago.

This year the week is celebrated under the theme, “Unity and reconciliation: Foundation for Sustainable Development.”

During the period, various activities are carried out such as discussions on unity, selection of outstanding individuals for national recognition, and writing competitions on reconciliations among others.

Families the basis of unity

Ahead of this year’s event to mark reconciliation week in Rusizi District, Fidele Ndayisaba, the NURC Executive Secretary, highlighted the role of families to promote unity for sustainable development.

Ndayisaba applauded the step the country has made in reconciling people after terrible history that the country faced. He reflected on the impactful initiatives designed to promote reconciliation.

According to the commission, Umuganda has been playing a role in fostering unity among community members.

“Forgiveness is a medicine. Apologizing and forgiving is a long process and its outcomes should be protected so that they last forever,”he said.

He noted that having perpetrators reconciled to genocide survivors bring more hope for bright future.

The commission called other perpetrators who stay cumbersome to confess and apologize as well as encouraging survivors to forgive.

Posted by Urinzwenimana Mike

The Express News


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