Vendredi de gratitude: Niyitegeka Félicité, héroïne nationale

Le texte de Madame Mukundente Ariane

Le vendredi de gratitude aujourd’hui donne honneur à Mme Félicité Niyitegeka, notre héroïne nationale.

Félicité Niyitegeka est née en 1934 à Vumbi, dans l’ancienne commune de Runyinya, préfecture de Butare, actuellement Huye. Elle fait son école primaire à l’école d’Astrida et poursuit ses études secondaires à Save chez les religieuses. Aussitôt ses études terminées, elle devient enseignante et surveillante à l’école secondaire de Muramba sous l’égide des Auxiliaires de l’Apostolat.

Venant d’une famille chrétienne, elle fut la première africaine à rejoindre les rang des Auxiliaires de l’Apostolat, qu’on appelle communément, dans la langue locale, « abakobwa ba Musenyeri ». Au même moment, Monseigneur Aloys Bigirumwami devient le premier évêque rwandais du vicariat de Nyundo qui venait tout juste d’être créé. Mme Niyitegeka devient ainsi Auxiliaire sous l’Apostolat de Monseigneur Bigirumwami.

Ce dernier l’envoie en formation à Lourdes au Centre mondial de formation des Auxiliaires de l’Apostolat. De retour au Rwanda, Mme Niyitegeka fut nommée Gérante du lycée Notre-Dame d’Afrique de Nyundo. En 1963, responsable d’autres auxiliaires africaines, elle les accompagne à Lourdes et y passe six ans. Après ce long séjour en France, elle rentre au Rwanda et est nommée Directrice du Centre Saint Pierre, le centre diocésain de formation et de retraite des Auxiliaires de l’Apostolat.

Mme Félicité Niyitegeka est une personnalité publique reconnue pour avoir héroïquement refusé de livrer aux miliciens les gens qui s’étaient réfugiés dans son centre pendant le génocide contre les Tutsis en avril 1994. Elle connut la mort à leur côté malgré l’intervention de son frère militaire qui lui demanda de se sauver. Durant cette période difficile, elle aura pu servir ce Dieu auquel elle avait consacrée sa vie, et ce jusqu’à l’ultime sacrifice. En effet, le Centre Saint-Pierre était un véritable refuge pour les gens qui s’y abritaient. Tout le monde était le bienvenue, et jamais personne n’a été repoussé.

Mme Niyitegeka, avec toutes les autres Auxiliaires de l’Apostolat, parvenaient à nourrir les réfugiés grâce aux produits récoltés dans les champs attenants au Centre. Le Centre recevait aussi de nombreux blessés et Mme Niyitegeka ne craignait pas de braver les miliciens pour aller chercher les médicaments nécessaires pour prodiguer des soins. Mme Félicité ne dormait pas, veillait sur tout le Centre en faisait la vigie de nuit dans la cour pour repérer une éventuelle attaque de miliciens. Mais hélas, des rumeurs se répandirent aux oreilles de la population qu’on pouvait se réfugier au Centre et que des Tutsis s’y cachaient. Mme Niyitegeka chercha un moyen d’évacuer le plus des gens possible vers le Congo. En soudoyant les militaires à la barrière de Gisenyi, elle parvint à sauver une quarantaine de personnes. Alors qu’elle tentait une nouvelle évacuation le 20 avril, les miliciens Interahamwes prirent le Centre en assaut. On le somma de se séparer de ses protégés mais Mme Niyitegeka refusa catégoriquement d’obtempérer et demanda même qu’on la tue à leur place. On les embarqua plutôt dans une camionnette qui prit la direction de « la Commune rouge », lieu où plusieurs personnes furent tuées. Sachant que leur sort était scellé, Mme Niyitegeka entonna une musique religieuse et une prière. En chemin, les miliciens lui supplièrent de sortir mais elle refusa à nouveau. À « la Commune rouge », des fosses communes étaient déjà creusées.

Six Auxiliaires de l’Apostolat et vingt-quatre personnes furent froidement abattues. Mme Niyitegeka fut massacrée en dernier. Après cet acte ignoble, les corps furent tous jetés dans les fosses.

La bravoure était dans son ADN et une affaire de famille, car elle est la sœur aînée d’un autre héros des Vendredi de gratitude, le Dr. Laurien Ntezimana. Quelle famille exceptionnelle! Ce dernier avait beaucoup d’admiration pour sa sœur qu’il décriva en ces quelques mots : « Je me risque à parler pour la première fois de ma « bienheureuse » Félicité. Je l’appelle bienheureuse, non pas parce qu’elle aurait été proclamée telle par l’Église catholique qu’elle aimait comme sa Mère et pour laquelle elle s’est livrée corps et âme, – Église qui la reconnaîtra finalement comme sainte, je n’en doute guère -, je l’appelle bienheureuse simplement parce que je considère qu’elle l’est: de son vivant, je l’ai toujours vue pacifiée et rayonnante, jamais dolente ou abattue. Je n’étais pas là au moment de son témoignage suprême. Mais je suis absolument certain que c’est dans un sublime moment d’oblation, en toute conscience et remplie de gratitude, qu’elle a offert sa vie. Offert sa vie en signe de refus d’être séparée de celles qui venaient d’être assassinées. Offert sa vie aussi en signe de protestation contre tant de gâchis et pour obliger les tueurs à prendre conscience de leurs méfaits. A-t-elle réussi à toucher leurs cœurs endurcis ? Sûrement, au moins pour quelques-uns qui furent étonnés par tant de « naïveté » jointe à tant d’intrépidité. »

Quoi dire de plus?

Tout simplement: Félicitée Niyitegeka, niyubahwe!

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