Murambi Hill seems an idyllic place. The top of a large hill, only accessible through a badly signposted dirt track. At all sides gentle, green slopes into the valley, and from there sloping up again to the next green hill. A beautiful view, some scattered houses, agriculture, some cows, not much happening. On the top of the hill is a complex of buildings that can be recognised from afar as a school, like there are many in this part of the world. With one difference. There have never been classes here.
At the time of building, the complex was certainly meant to be a school, a technical school for the region, but it hadn’t been finished yet by the time the genocide started. At first, the Tutsis from the region fled to the church downhill, but they were advised, ostensibly for their safety, to go to the technical school. Over the next days, 50 to 60,000 men, women and children followed that advice. After a few days, the supply of food and water was aborted. De first attack by the armed militias was repulsed with stones and a lot of courage, but the next day, April 21, 1994, there was an attack from the same militias, supported by the army, armed with guns, grenades, machetes and clubs. The weakened Tutsis couldn’t resist anymore. Only a dozen survived the attack.
Nowadays, this is one of the most horrifying Genocide Memorials in Rwanda. Not because of the exposition in the main building, which is comparable to that in Kigali, but a bit less extensive. After the massacre, bulldozers were used to dig mass graves, in which the victims were dumped. The heat that was formed by the decomposing bodies, mummified some of them. When the mass graves were cleared, these “mummies” were further prepared with lime, so they were preserved as white ghosts of what they once were. More than 800 of these bodies are displayed on wooden racks in the classrooms and dormitories behind the main building, where they died. Because of the conservation process, they are preserved exactly as they were in their last moment. The fear still on their faces, a man trying to protect his head with his hands, a mother still holding her baby in her arms, some still have their hair, some only a gaping hole in their skull. It is one gruelling accusation against what happened to them.