2022-07-01 GENERAL HOUSE

1 July: memory of Brothers Chris Mannion and Joseph Rushigajiki

The 1st of July we remember the tragic deaths of Brothers Chris Mannion and Joseph Rushigajiki while they were attempting to save some of the Brothers and other persons in danger in Save, during the Rwandan genocide of 1994. We recall this dramatic event through the account of Brother Alexandre Rugema, who had left the country a few days before the beginning of the conflict.


When the Rwandan genocide broke out in Save, Brother Nzabonaliba Albert (the last Brother who left Rwanda) ran about everywhere in order to save :

  • the Tutsi Brothers, by leading them to the frontier of Burundi,
  • the teachers and young postulants and the Brothers who had stayed in Save,
  • people he did not know and who were targeted by the militia ; he ransomed them with money,
  • the Benebikira Sisters who were under attack everyday and to whom he brought food…

In the meantime, Brothers Stanislas Ngombwa, superior of the District of Zaire at the time, and Spiridion Ndanga, who was Master of Novices in Nyangezi (Zaire), succeeded in sending a message to Rome to ask that someone come to help evacuate the Tutsi Brothers trapped in Save. It was thus that around 28 June 1994, Brother Christ Mannion, General Councillor of the Marist Brothers and British by birth, was sent by the Superior General to go to Save to give help to the Brothers in danger of death.

Before leaving Rome, the Superior General told him : « It could be that you are forced to walk many kilometres on foot, in the jungle, perhaps carrying someone on your shoulders. It could be that you lose your life there ». He travelled via Bujumbura (Burundi) and reached Save. He saw and spoke with the brothers who needed help. He told them : « I am going to Mururu to see the other Brothers and I will come back to get you ». Brother Joseph Rushigajiki offered to accompany him. The next day, on the way back, they encountered at Gikongoro and Butare numerous people fleeing towards  Zaire. Brother Joseph Rushigajiki could have been aware of the danger, but the two Brothers went on anyway. It might have been considered suicidal. No, the Brothers were only thinking of their Confrères in danger of death. At Butare, they asked for assistance from the French soldiers present there. They agreed to accompany them to  Save. The two Brothers led the convoy: the Brothers’ car, a jeep and at least 3 military lorries (for the Brothers had the intention of also evacuating 200 young Benebikira Sisters who were also trapped in Save). Two kilometres from their destination, the French jeep ran into a gutter and the convoy halted to get it back on the road. The two Brothers, not knowing what had happened behind them, continued on their way. Two hundred metres from the Brothers’ residence, the car ran into an ambush and was riddled with bullets and the Brothers were killed. The French military convoy, hearing the shooting, turned back, for they did not wish to face the soldiers of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (FPR). It was on 01 July 1994 around 7.00 pm.

Read more about the Brothers  Chris Mannion and Joseph Rushigajiki 


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