Ferdinand Nahimana was born on 15 July in the Commune of Gatonde (Ruhengeri Prefecture, Rwanda). He is married and is the father of four children.
He holds a Doctorate in History from the University of Paris VII, was a member of the Welfare Committee of the Butare National University and Director of the Rwandan Information Office.
He was nominated as Higher Education Minister for Culture and Scientific Research under the terms of the peace agreements signed in Arusha on 3 August 1993.
Known as an ideologue within the inner circle of President Habyarimana, Ferdinand Nahimana was a co-founder of the Coalition for the Defence of the Republic (CDR) an openly pro-genocide Hutu Party. He was also member of a group known by the name of “Hutu Power”.
Between 1979 and 1994, Nahimana allegedly wrote and published articles aimed at encouraging the population to rise up against the Tutsis and moderate Hutus and extolling the superiority of the northern Hutus.
After being dismissed in 1993 from the Rwandan National Radio before the genocide due to his hate-filled rantings, he took part, as a member of the “Action Committee”, in the creation of the “Radio Télévision Libre des Milles Collines (RTLM)” in effect becoming its Director, according to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). Due to his biased radio programmes he was accused of being one of the ideologues behind the genocide and of gathering around him an editorial team at the RTLM which directly encouraged, over the air, the assassination of Tutsis and Hutus who were in opposition,. From April 1993 to 31 July 1994 approximately, Ferdinand Nahimana is said to have planned, directed and supported such radio programmes According to the Prosecutor of the ICTR, “he was aware of the programmes and the effect that these programmes had on the population”.
Between January and July 1994, with the help of his brother, Nahimana reportedly organised meetings with members of the Mouvement National Républicain pour la Démocratie et le Développement (MRND, National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development, the party of the President) and with Interahamwe militiamen in the Ruhengeri Prefecture. The intent of such meetings was to discuss the elimination of the Tutsis and moderate Hutus.
On 7 April 1994, Nahimana was taken in by the French Embassy, which subsequently allowed him to escape to Bujumbura (Burundi) on 12 April 1994.
During “Operation Turquoise”,( a French military operation under the auspices of the United Nations), he returned to Rwanda (via Zaire) to the “safe humanitarian zone”. After journeying throughout Africa, Nahimana arrived on 30 August 1994 in Cameroon where he was arrested on 26 March 1996.