Staff of the country’s largest beverages manufacturer, Bralirwa Ltd, in Kigali on Tuesday took time to remember the Rwandans and the company’s employees who died during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsis.
Led by their Vice-Chairman and Managing Director, Victor Madiela, the staff visited Ntarama Memorial Site in Bugesera District where over 5,000 people were laid to rest before heading back to the Kicukiro soft drinks plant where another commemoration event was held.
The commemoration in Ntarama started with a 1-kilometer Walk to Remember by the Bralirwa Kigali staff to Ntarama Genocide memorial.
During the Genocide, thousands of Tutsis sought refuge in the Catholic Church, only to be killed by the Interahamwe militia with grenades, guns and traditional weapons.
After touring the site and being explained what happened there, the Bralirwa staff laid wreaths on the mass graves containing the remains of thousands of victims.
Marie Chantal Umuganwa, who works at the site for the National Commission for the Fight Against Genocide (CNLG), narrated the tragic events that took place in the area in 1994, and thanked the staff of Bralirwa for recognizing the importance of commemorating the genocide while at the same time fighting genocide ideology and promoting unity in the country.
91 Bralirwa employees killed
The Bralirwa staff then returned to the soft-drinks plant in Kigali, where Madiela noted that it is important for the company to commemorate the Genocide against the Tutsis as among the more than one million Rwandans killed in 1994 were also hardworking and devoted Bralirwa employees – 32 of the workers in Kigali were killed, and 19 in Rubavu (Gisenyi).
In addition, in 1998 a bus with 40 Bralirwa employees travelling to Gisenyi was hijacked by Interahamwe militia before being killed and burned alive in the bus.
“We lost 91 good employees in Kigali and Gisenyi, Rubavu District and every year we take time to commemorate them at both locations,” Madiela remarked. “As it is the first time for me to learn first-hand of what took place in this country, I am really shocked and hurt at how human beings carried out such killings.”
“This is also a life lesson on how we all need to live together. I am happy with what the Government of Rwanda is doing to promote unity and fight genocide ideology,” he added.
Madiela said that Bralirwa, as one of the biggest employers in the country, promotes teamwork among its staff and regularly holds celebratory events such as Labour Day in Kigali and Gisenyi to enable its staff to get together and bond with another.
“As part of Heineken, we also have values such as promoting tolerance and diversity,” he explained, adding that in addition to its continued support for the surviving children and widows of its late employees and other Rwandans.
Egide Nkuranga, the vice-president of the survivors association Ibuka, commended Bralirwa for supporting Genocide survivors – Bralirwa has been paying school fees for the surviving children of its employees and built and renovated houses of widows of the genocide, in addition to paying medical insurance.
Dominique Savio Twahirwa, one of the late employees’ surviving children, shared their story at the event and said that thanks to Bralirwa’s support, he had now completed his university education.
Jacques Niyongabo, the Corporate Services Division Manager at Kicukiro District, said the future is bright for Rwandans and expressed his confidence that genocide will never happen again in Rwanda.
Read this article and more in issue n° 74 of Hope Magazine.