After the genocide

2013-04-28 14:00

As the complex power struggle in the DRC unfolds, its neighbour remembers the horror of almost 20 years ago. Pieter-Louis Myburgh and Leon Sadiki bear witness

As the atmosphere in the troubled eastern regions of the Democratic Republic ?of Congo (DRC) remains tense, with ethnic Hutus and Tutsis playing key roles in the area’s complex power struggles, the DRC’s neighbour to the east commemorated its own dark episode involving the two groups.

Rwanda this week paid homage to the victims of 1994’s genocide, when up to 1?million Tutsis were murdered by their Hutu compatriots in April of that year.

April 19 is a national holiday in Rwanda and many locals use the day to stop by at one of hundreds of genocide memorial sites spread across the country.

City Press visited one of them in the village of Rugerero, where genocide survivor Dorothea Myiramshuti (38) gave a chilling account of her ordeal in 1994.

“They came so quickly and killed 433 people from this village. They killed my mother and my father, and many other family members,” says Myiramshuti.

She points to the glass cabinet containing the bones of some of the area’s slaughtered Tutsis, displayed as a stark and incriminating reminder of a world that failed to stop the atrocity.

On top of the cabinet genocide victims stare back from colour photographs.

“These people are gone now, but with this memorial site and the national day of remembrance, we make sure they are never forgotten,” says an emotional Myiramshuti.

Taxi driver Jean-Claude Mutamba (41), from the capital Kigali, says Rwandans are proud of the immense progress the country has made since that terrible passage in its history.

“After 1994, we gradually moved towards each other and today, there really isn’t any sign of separation between Hutus and Tutsis,” says Mutamba.

According to him there are no eyebrows raised when Hutus and Tutsis marry each other, and the military too has become fully integrated.

But Rwandans are concerned about the troubles brewing in the DRC.

“There are Hutu and Tutsi fighters there who were involved in Rwanda’s fighting. We are afraid that the conflict might cause big problems for the whole region, also for Rwanda,” says Mutamba.

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