Twenty eight years ago three college girls experienced a strange spiritual situation which made them believe that holy Virgin Mary had appeared to them in a vision but little did they know this would be challenged in court years later.
All this took place at a remote Kibeho hill in Nyaruguru district and later a jury indeed confirmed the apparitions were of the Virgin Mary.
However, Herman Manirareba 42, a resident of Gitega, Nyarugenge district challenges these apparition claims arguing that it wasn’t the Virgin Mary but the spirit of Rwandan Queen Nyirarumaga that appeared to these girls.
Queen Nyirarumaga was mother to King Ruganzu II Ndoli and Manirareba argues that the spirit of this queen mother appeared to the college girls in 1989 as a sign that there were bad times ahead. Five years later Rwanda slid into Genocide against Tutsi that claimed over a million lives.
Manirareba warns that claims of Virgin Mary apparitions is a manipulation of culture that may keep Rwandans divided for so long. He wants court to intervene.
According to the Catholic Church in Rwanda, the Virgin Mary appeared to the college girls with a message meant to warn against bad times ahead.
On June 13th, 2017, acting on behalf of Rwandans, Manirareba filed a case RC00468/2017/TGI/NYGE at the Nyarugenge Intermediate Court. He wants the Virgin Mary vision claims to be overturned.
Thadee Ntihinyurwa 75, Rwanda’s catholic Archbishop is thus set to appear before court on 30th November. He was part of the Jury panel which qualified that the apparitions were of Virgin Mary which Manirareba considers as ridicule to Rwandan culture and traditional religion.
On November 13th, court convened to listen to both parties ahead of the formal hearing scheduled on November 30th.
Yvonne Ndengeyingoma, a lawyer representing Archbishop Ntihinyurwa, asked the court to drop the case or change description of charges, saying that the plaintiff does not have any legal authority to represent Rwandans unless he proves they delegated him.
“When you don’t have any legal power for presenting a case in court, your case cannot be accepted,” she said.
While Archbishop Ntihinyurwa’s lawyer believed Manirareba should have accused the Catholic Church instead of Ntihinyurwa, Manirareba said “It’s him whom I was able to find,” he said.
Manirareba told the court that Archbishop Ntihinyurwa and the jury’s approval of the apparitions was a mere lie in the interests of Westerners.
“I would have misdirected my allegation if I did not accuse Archbishop Ntihinyurwa, because you cannot separate him from the Catholic Church as he is the cornerstone of Rwanda Catholic Church,” he said.
Meanwhile, Manirareba pleaded the court “to ban all the religions – Christianity and others so that Rwandans can return to their traditional worship of their ancestors.”
According to the constitution, Rwanda is a secular state.
After a pre-trial meeting, the court will rule on relevancy of the case on November 30th, 2017 for the trial.