Genocide in Rwanda: “Thirty years ago, living together was unimaginable”

Genocide in Rwanda: “Thirty years ago, living together was unimaginable”

Félicité Lyamukuru is a survivor. His entire family was decimated during the genocide.

Félicité Lyamukuru increases the number of meetings with students to talk about hatred, negationism and obviously, genocide. She was in Rwanda in 1994, finishing her secondary studies when the tragedy occurred. His entire family was wiped out. Thirty years later, it is obviously impossible to forget the facts, the injuries, the scenes she witnessed from her hiding place.

This thirtieth commemoration is first of all an opportunity to remember all the victims, she blurted out when she had just left her rheto classes for yet another awareness workshop.. “This commemoration is also for all those people who did not benefit from any assistance. Thirty years is also the time of reconstruction, of the journey traveled for many. I could never imagine thirty years ago that I would be standing, a mother and, even, an actress for the prevention of hatred and violence”explains this woman who has lived in Brussels for many years.

Thirty years later, however, words and songs, the same as in the early 1990s, resound particularly in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo. “It's frightening. It's a form of despair when we remember what happened in Rwanda. The hatred that is being sown today in this region, against the Tutsi or Rwanda in general, will be very difficult to uproot. We are in the process of formatting an entire population which says that the enemy is the other. The “never again” that we so much wish for is still too often a slogan.”

A new generation

If she lives in Belgium, Félicité Lyamukuru regularly returns to Rwanda, often with groups of young people or Belgian or French teachers, to discover what she calls “the little miracle”.

Indeed, thirty years later, we also see the path taken by an entire country. It was almost unthinkable in 1994 to be able to continue to live together. I remember that some, like the French minister Hubert Védrine, announced that cohabitation would be impossible, that there would be a Hutuland and a Tutsiland. He was completely wrong. Rwanda exists and cohabitation is there,” explains Madame Lyamukuru, who recalls the implacable observation made from the start by the new Rwandan power, which insisted that everyone was condemned to live on the same land.

Today, nearly 60% of the Rwandan population is under 30 years old and therefore did not experience the genocide. “We have to listen to these young people, they obviously no longer want to relive what we experienced but above all they are open, curious. There is more and more mixing, it is very encouraging”.

To restore this form of cohabitation, the country resorted to Gacaca, a judicial system inspired by the custom of village hearings intended to resolve local conflicts. “It was a necessity. The survivors wanted quick answers, they wanted to hear from the genocidaires who were sometimes their neighbors. It wasn't perfect, but this system made it possible to hear from hundreds of thousands of people in a short time. In fact, I think it was the appropriate response for a particular situation”.

It was necessary to create a Rwandan model to ensure that this country could revive as a united nation. continues Félicite Lyamukuru. Paul Kagame's personality hovers over this interview. The man, even if he will stand for a new presidential term this summer, will one day have to take a step aside. Can post-Kagame Rwanda imagine itself with a Hutu in power? “Yes it's possible, she blurted out, before adding: “even if it will be difficult for my generation. But I have confidence in the new generation. She wants to live and live well in her country, Rwanda.”

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