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Nyamata-Ntarama Genocide Memorials & Reconciliation Village

(2 Reviews)
Price
From$150
Price
From$150
October 8, 2022
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620
1 Day
Availability : Jan 19’ - Dec 19’
YAMBI Hotel
Nyamata & Ntarama Churches
Min Age : 16+
Max People : 20

The Nyamata and Ntarama Genocide Memorials are situated in Bugesera region approximately 35km from Kigali City. Bugesera is about an hour’s drive south of Kigali. After visiting the memorials, we spend time with a small community which became a symbol of a unity, reconciliation and development. In this community, the survivors now live in harmony with the former genocide convicts; this tour provides an opportunity to hear their testimonies, the reconciliation journey and their perspectives on the peace building initiatives.

Nyamata was one of the worst sites of the unfolding of the genocide – the numbers of victims alone are staggering. 10,000 people were murdered inside the church building alone – yet more outside. The figures given vary, but it could have been as many as 24,000.

Like Ntarama, Nyamata lies in a region that had a particularly high proportion of Tutsis amongst the population. This was partly due to the fact that after the first genocidal developments in 1959 and the early 1960s (when Rwanda gained its independence and Hutu majority rule was installed), Tutsis were forcibly resettled here, as it was considered an unfavourable part of the land (drought, famine).

It was also there, on the other hand, that churches did serve as safe havens during the earlier genocidal outbreaks before 1994. This is why so many people crammed into churches all over the country to seek shelter, not knowing that these buildings would turn into death traps this time around. Nyamata became one of the starkest examples of this. The frightened Tutsis who had locked themselves in the church were not to be spared by the Hutu killer hordes.

Tour Details

As at all of the National Genocide Memorial sites in Rwanda outside Kigali, visitors are on arrival greeted by a local guide who will then escort them around the site.

Much of the place is adorned with purple and white cloth – the symbolic colours in Rwanda for mourning and hope, respectively.

The guided tour starts inside the main church building itself – past a metal gate that is bent and twisted from when the killers forced their way into the church with the aid of grenades.

Inside, the pews – originally intended for up to 600 worshippers – are covered with heaps of dirty rags … the clothes of the victims! The amount of blood-stained clothing gives you a rough impression of the number of victims. But it is still near impossible to imagine how crowded the church must have been when the massacres began. How 10,000 people should have fitted into this space is beyond all comprehension really. The same is even more true, of course, for what happened to them here. Incomprehensible.

Departure & Return Location

YAMBI Hotel, Gikondo

Departure Time

Between 9:00am and 1:00pm

Price Includes

  • All transportation in destination location
  • Tour Guide
  • Entrance is Free

Price Excludes

  • Meals
  • Any Private Expenses

Complementaries

  • Umbrella
  • Sunscreen
  • T-Shirt
  • Entrance Fees
What to Expect

The guided tour starts inside the main church building itself – past a metal gate that is bent and twisted from when the killers forced their way into the church with the aid of grenades.

Inside, the pews – originally intended for up to 600 worshippers – are covered with heaps of dirty rags … the clothes of the victims! The amount of blood-stained clothing gives you a rough impression of the number of victims. But it is still near impossible to imagine how crowded the church must have been when the massacres began. How 10,000 people should have fitted into this space is beyond all comprehension really. The same is even more true, of course, for what happened to them here. Incomprehensible.

Still, the story of the place and the mass slaughter that took place here is narrated calmly by the local guide, in fairly decent English, by the way (which hadn’t been the norm in Rwanda until rather recently). She also pointed out a few special exhibits on the church altar, first and foremost the cloth covering it: you can clearly see the enormous blood stains. Some of the victims were literally slaughtered at the altar. A couple of artefacts are also displayed here, including the genocidaire’s murder weapon of choice: a machete.

The brick walls of the church interior also show stains from the blood of victims – as well as bullet holes and grenade shrapnel scars. The tin roof also has holes from the explosions – which now let tiny specks of light through.

  • Bugesera district
  • Nyamata Church Memorial
  • Ntarama Church Memorial
  • Peace & Reconciliation Village
Photos