The Nyange School site is located in Western Province. Click on the image for a slideshow of photographs. All photographs © 2002-2008 Jens Meierhenrich.

On the grounds of Nyange Secondary School in the former Kibuye prefecture—now Rwanda’s Western Province—a memorial in pristine condition recalls a recent spree of genocidal crimes. The events that this single-person tomb commemorates took place not in 1994, but on a single day in 1997—three years after the genocide. On March 18, 1997, a band of Hutu insurgents attacked this hilltop boarding school under the cover of darkness, killing six students and a night-watchman and injuring twenty others.

Donning fatigues of the former Forces Armées Rwandaises (FAR), the twenty or so gunmen are believed to have infiltrated Rwanda from the safety of the refuge camps in Zaire (nowadays the Democratic Republic of Congo), intent on killing all of the school’s Tutsi. However, the 5th and 6th grade students who were studying in two of the school’s classrooms that evening refused to partake in the self-selection, proclaiming instead, “Twese Turi abanyarwanda” (“We are all Rwandans”).

Among them was Chantal Mujawamahoro, the sole victim interred in the tomb on the school grounds. She is apparently the only victim whose remains were not claimed by relatives and thus is safe-kept here. Her life is also honored, and her fate remembered (together with that of two of her classmates), in Kigali’s Heroes Memorial near Amahoro Stadium.

At Nyange Secondary School, three student associations—Ubumwe N’Amahoro, Komeza Ubutwari (“Keep on Being Brave”), and Ntibigasubire Ukundi —preserve Chantal’s resting place and with it the memory of the events that transpired here long after the genocide was supposed to have ended.

Copyright © 2010 Jens Meierhenrich. All rights reserved.