Yesterday, Saturday, Rwanda bid farewell to one of its national heroes, as Damas Gisimba, who died on the fourth of June at the age of 62, was buried after a life full of charitable work and distinguished moments, the most important of which was saving hundreds during the country’s civil war.
Gisimba was running an orphanage in 1994, when a campaign of extermination by some Hutu extremists broke out against the Tutsi tribes within the Rwandan civil war, which eventually wiped out more than 800,000 Rwandans.
Gisimba, who had a Hutu identity despite his mixed ethnicity, gathered more than 400 children and adults from the Tutsi tribes, and hid them in the house he runs, making himself a target for the Hutu forces who threatened him more than once.
Muri Jenoside yakorewe Abatutsi mu 1994 Gisimba Damas yakiriye muri Orphelinat ye Abatutsi barenga 400 arabarokora. Muri 2015 Gisimba yagizwe Umurinzi w’Igihango ku rwego rw’igihugu. Azahora yibukwa ku neza ye yagizwe na bake. pic.twitter.com/znG1LKmYO7
— Ministry of National Unity and Civic Engagement (@Unity_MemoryRw) June 4, 2023
Gisemba received a wide popular obituary, as many praised what he did and thanks to many who owe him survival during that difficult period.
Former Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo mourned him in a tweet, saying, “Gissimba was an exceptional citizen. He risked his life by protecting hundreds of Tutsi children.”
One blogger wrote, “Damas Gisimba was an exceptional man during the darkest period in our history, and he will remain in our hearts,” at a time when many enumerated his merits and distinguished works.