Rwanda Marks Anniversary of 1994 Genocide


This is true for Mariane Mukaneza, a mother of four whose husband was killed in the city of Rubavu, in the west. As she fled, Ms. Mukaneza said she was given shelter by Yussuf Ntamuhanga, an ethnic Hutu, who became well known for hiding Tutsis and helping them cross into Congo.

Mr. Ntamuhanga is also Muslim, who like many in the Rwandan Muslim community did not participate in the bloodshed. At the onset of the genocide, Muslims were socially and economically marginalized in Rwanda, said Salim Hitimana, the mufti of Rwanda. As such, their leaders were not as close to the political establishment, he said, and from the outset, they denounced the violence and saved those fleeing in their homes and mosques.

“He is my family and my hope,” Ms. Mukaneza, 68, said of Mr. Ntamuhanga on a recent afternoon as the two sat across from each other during an interview. “He did not care about my religion or where I came from.”

Mr. Ntamuhanga, 65, who was fasting for the holy month of Ramadan, said he personally helped rescue more than three dozen people. “My father raised me on love and compassion,” he said, “and Islam reinforced that message, too.”

For now, Ms. Mukantaganda, betrayed by a close friend, said she was learning how to heal. But reminders of those bloody days are constant, she said: places around town that trigger memories of killings; the bodies that continue to be exhumed; and even the rain falling on her rooftop on a recent afternoon, reminding her of similar rainy days in April 1994.

“It all feels like it happened yesterday,” she said.


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