Callixte Ndagijimana

Callixte Ndagijimana, burgomaster of the commune of Mugina, tried to guard against the genocide; until his assassination the 21st of April 1994.

Whoever looks in detail into the history of the genocide in Rwanda in 1994 will find out that this genocide would never have been possible without the active participation of the burgomasters. They represented the political authority of the civil administration at the local level. Their duty was to protect the population, to take all the means necessary to maintain public order in their respective communes in collaboration with their local police services. Nevertheless, during the genocide, most burgomasters failed their first mission: to protect the population. They joined the side of the killers and actively participated in organizing the genocide in accordance with the orders given by the interim government1. In the beginning, several town halls were used as refuge; the burgomasters welcomed the refugees and promised them protection and help. But then, these same burgomasters were directly involved in the massacres, sometimes through their own initiative, and their actions drove common citizens to follow their example.

Calixte Ndagijimana was one of the rare burgomasters to accept risking his job and own life to protect the Tutsi of his commune, at a time where the watchword of the temporary government was their extermination. He rose, with force and determination, against the genocide in his commune, until his death the 21st of April 1994.

1 The interim government was created the 9th of April 1994, 3 days after the attack that killed President Juvénal Habyarimana, and the assassination of the Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana’s presidential guard. This government was created under the leadership of the Ministerial of defence principal private Secretary, the colonel Théoneste Bagosora. It was this government that led to the genocide.