A national heroine

Félicité not only gave herself in her death: her whole life was devoted to her neighbours. She dispensed upbringing advice to the parents, encouraged children to study, even paying for their tuition fees. On her hill of origin, Fécilité was always quoted as a role model. Tormented by the escalating conflicts between Rwandans, during her trainings she asked people to teach peace, love and ethnical non-discrimination. Her little sister tells us: “Félicité had sown in us the seeds of love, so much so that we had no idea to which ethnic group we belonged. We were just aware of being children of God, simply”. Thus, her sister knew, when the genocide broke out, that Félicité was going to die: “She couldn’t bear seeing others die before her own eyes”.

Her sacrifice is engraved in the hearts of all those she helped and saved. The survivors of Nyundo thank her for her heroism and her strength of character. All wish that Félicité Niyitegeka be declared a saint. In 2011, the government raised her to the rank of national heroin. Accepting to give your own life for your neighbour, whichever his origin is more than just an act of faith. It’s an act of pure humanity.

Let us finish with the words of her youngest brother, Laurien Ntezimana:

“I venture to talk about my “blessed” Félicité for the first time. I call her blessed, not because she was proclaimed that way by the Catholic church that she loved as her Mother and for which she gave herself body and soul, - the Church that will finally recognize her as a saint- I do not doubt-, I call her blessed simply because I consider that she was: in her lifetime, I’ve always seen her pacifying and beaming, never mournful nor worn out. I wasn’t there during her highest testimony. But I’m absolutely sure that it was in a noble moment of oblation, in true conscience and filled with gratitude, that she gave her life. Offered her life in refusal of being separated from those just assassinated. Offered her life also in protest against so much waste and to force her killers to become aware of their misdeeds. Was she able to touch their harden heart? Surely, at least for some of them who were astonished by such “naivety1” combined with such fearlessness”2.

1 Quote from the book of Jean D’Amour Dusengumuremyi, Félicité Niyitegeka: Sa compassion jusqu’au don de sa vie: “This is what we call “second naivety “, this post-critical ingenuousness that characterizes those who have seen “everything” of the human being without actually loosing hope of him. Such was my sister.”
2 Ibid.