This mountain village was once the capital of a Tutsi kingdom, a teeming center of trade and industry where people lived in homes with gardens out front and wells of clear rainwater in back.
Now, the wells are filled with bodies, the water is too contaminated to drink and the royal palace is a gaudy reminder of better days.Nyanza is one of the latest casualties of Rwanda's civil war. The town of 20,000 fell Monday to mainly Tutsi rebels and is now taking in victims from the rebels' next target 15 miles up the road, Kabgayi.
The rebel Rwandan Patriotic Front claimed to have taken Kabgayi on Thursday, but the sounds of battle heard Saturday in Nyanza made clear that pockets of government resistance remained.
Each day of fighting in Kabgayi brings more desperate refugees to Nyanza, more victims to the Red Cross hospital on Rue des Ecoles, more wandering children to Father Giorgio Vito's orphanage.
The hospital had been in Kabgayi, but fighting forced the Red Cross to move it to Nyanza. Red Cross trucks carry the injured from Kabgayi to the facility, which has two doctors, three nurses, no electricity, no water and no food.
"We try to arrange food and water for them. When we get that, then we can begin to operate," said Margit Pesonem, a Finnish Red Cross worker.
Waiting for treatment results in more infection and illness from festering machete, grenade and gunshot wounds. Awaiting care on Saturday was 12-year-old Kwizera, who was shot in the leg during a government attack on his village.
Beside him, on a mattress on a concrete floor, lay 15-year-old Yvonne, her stomach filled with shrapnel from a grenade blast. Like most children here, they had no idea where their parents are.
Down the road, dozens of refugees from Kabgayi fought over a bag of canned food that lay on the side of the road.
In the yard of a nearby house, a resident pointed out wells that held the bodies of people killed in attacks that began in Nyanza and throughout Rwanda after President Juvenal Habyarimana, a member of the majority Hutu ethnic group, died in a mysterious plane crash April 6.