Rosalie Gicanda

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Queen Dowager Rosalie Gicanda (1928[1] – 20 April 1994) was the wife of Rwandan Mwami (King in the Kinyarwanda language) Mutara III of Rwanda. After her husband died in mysterious circumstances in 1959, the Rwandan monarchy lasted only two more years, under the leadership of Mwami Kigeli V of Rwanda and then coming to an end in 1961. However, the Queen continued to live in Butare in Butare Province, Rwanda, along with her mother and several ladies-in-waiting.


On 20 April 1994, as the Rwandan Genocide began in earnest in Butare, a detachment of soldiers commanded by Lt. Pierre Bizimana, acting under the orders of Capt. Idelphonse Nizeyimana, kidnapped the former Queen along with others from her house, they then took the captives behind the National Museum and shot them. Only a younger girl survived to tell the story of the murders. Two days later, the Queen's mother was also murdered. At the request of a priest, Butare mayor Kanyabashi recovered Queen Gicanda’s body and had it buried in the yard next to her house.[2]

Public reaction[edit]

The Queen was a living symbol for Tutsis, and her murder shocked many, it effectively signaled the beginning of the mass killing in the Butare area, which saw some of the worst atrocities committed during the fighting.

After the genocide, a Rwandan military court found Bizimana and Private 1st Class Aloys Mazimpaka guilty of genocide and the murder of Queen Gicanda and her family. (Chambre Specialisée du Conseil de Guerre de Butare, case no. LMD 187, LP 0001-PS 97, Judgment pronounced July 27, 1998.) Bizimana was sentenced to death, Mazimpaka to life in prison.

On 6 October 2009, former intelligence chief Idelphonse Nizeyimana was arrested in Kampala, Uganda. Nizeyimana was one of the most wanted suspects in the Rwandan genocide.[3] On 19 June 2012, he was convicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda of ordering the killing of the former Tutsi queen, as well as other murders, and was sentenced to life imprisonment.[4]


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