A woman who was decorated with a medal of honor by the President Paul Kagame saved many Tutsi lives in the Genocide, using Nyabingi as a techniquePosted By: Tony Karera - On:22/04/2016
Zula Karihimbi is an amazingly stalwart woman, for she has 100 years of age, but her age seems to not be a problem whatsoever; she can take care of herself on her own. A fact of matter is that she vividly remembers her youth time at the reign of Rwandan former King Yuhi Musinga. For now, she lives in the region of Gaseke, in the Musa neighborhood, Ruhango sector and Ruhango district in the Southern province of Rwanda.
Zura Karuhimbi in front of her house
When one talks to her neighbors in the Gaseke region, everyone tells you how heroic this woman was during the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi in Rwanda. In fact, she saved over 150 Tutsi lives by scaring away the Genocide perpetrators with Nyabingi; she would tell them that she has Nyabingi – which are evil spirits – in her house and the latter would not dare entering her house, and the Tutsi, hidden in it, would live. Not only did she save Tutsi lives, for there were Twa and Hutu people who were against the Genocide ideology who were also searched and did hide at Karuhimbi’s house in order not to be killed. Interestingly enough, some white people did take refuge at her house as well.
This is the house that worked as a safe haven for people who were tracked down by Genocide killers
Karuhimbi affirmed that she harbored 100 Tutsis, 50 Hutus, 2 Twas and 3 Whites. All these people put up to her house because they knew that she is a kind and loving person as opposed to the killers.
She had set up traditional herbs and medicinal plants around her house to scare away Interahamwe killers; she would tell them that she does not only have Nyabingi in her house but worship them.
Zura Karuhimbi, a heroic woman in the most troubled times in Rwanda
Karuhimbi had told the people who sought refuge at her house how to respond to her calls, referring to them as Nyabingi. So, when the Interahamwe would be searching her house for people to kill, she would tell them that she is about to implore on her Nyabingi spirits to harm them. Then, the Tutsi and others would respond to her in a strange manner as if they were Nyabingi evil spirits; this technique would scare away the killers, who did run away couple of times lest they would be harmed by Nyabingi.
The front door of Karuhimbi’s house, where most of the traditional herbs, alluding to Nyabingi, were.
Though Zura Karuhimbi did not have a fortune at the Genocide time, she tried her best to find food for the people at her house, as they stayed at the house for 3 months! – April to July 1994.
In 2007, the President Paul Kagame led a ceremony in which they honored people who saved lives by giving them a shelter, and Zura Karuhimbi was one of the honoraries. Also, she was decorated by the Islam Federation of Rwanda for her heroic work and courage.
Karuhimbi with her two medals
Karuhimbi is not well off despite winning medals and having been appreciated for her rashness in the Genocide. She has raised voice to the government for help without much success.
Her house has no ceiling and the rain can pass through
Karuhimbi’s house, which did not break under the duress countless bullets that were shot at it had, is very old and needs to be sustained. She currently lives in the house with a young girl that Karuhimbi raises on her own. Worthy to note that both live in with a cow they were given through the social program Gira Inka.
The young girl who lives with Karuhimbi
Niyigeza Zulfat, the young girl’s name, said that they lead a hard life as they struggle much; she tirelessly seeks jobs in order to attain to her family’s needs, for Karuhimbi cannot work and sustain the family.
This is the cowshed of Karuhimbi's cow, but the latter does “live” in the house at night with the other women
Mbabazi Francois Xavier, the chief of the Ruhango sector, told Royal TV that they will help Karuhimbi’s family in every way they can. They will namely build a house – that will not let rain to pass – for her family to start off.