Preface to the stories of Hutu rescuers


This web log has been created to encourage a long-lasting peace in Rwanda, a stable peace which must be based upon mutual understanding, respect, and trust between Hutus and Tutsis. Most of these pages will consist of stories and narratives describing how many Rwandans struggled to save one another in the face of the 1994 genocide and its aftermath. It is administered by Paul Conway, Professor of Political Science at the State University College of New York at Oneonta, and Stephen Gatsinzi and Edmond Murenzi in Kigali.

Mahmood Mamdani has suggested that most adult Rwandans today should be considered survivors because they have lost loved ones and suffered grievously from crimes that should never be forgotten.* Certainly, all of those who committed violent crimes such as murder and rape should be punished. The stories below are evidence that despite the extensive and widespread participation of Hutus in the 1994 genocide, there were countless thousands who refused to stand by or cooperate in the killings and atrocities.  An unknown number of those courageous individuals who risked their own lives in efforts to save Tutsis were killed. Some of those rescuers who survived are recognized as heros today. Their stories may contribute to the slow, agonizing process of  ‘reconciliation’ that must still be pursued even though the genocide happened two decades ago.**

The stories of survivors and rescuers come from a variety of published and unpublished sources (including interviews conducted in 2007). Some stories are briefly summarized elsewhere. Although most of the stories are recorded in English, some are in Kinyarwanda and some in French. Individuals interviewed for this blog were also asked for their opinions about the gacaca process. Much has occurred since the gacaca process ended in 2012. Readers in Rwanda are now encouraged to respond in any of these languages. In addition to the stories of rescuers, a number of useful essays and studies that suggest insights into the strengths and weaknesses of reconciliation efforts will be listed below. There is no suggestion that outsiders know or can tell Rwandans how best to pursue the difficult path to a hopeful and peaceful future. Rwandans themselves will decide in their own communities as part of a still proud, independent nation.

* In the conclusion to his analysis entitled ‘When Victims Become Killers,’ (Princeton University Press, 2001) Mamdani emphasizes that the historical roots of the genocide go back to the Rwabugiri reforms at the turn of the previous century and subsequent colonial ‘reforms’ from 1926-36 that racialized ethnic  identities and hardened Tutsi privilege. There were numerous mass murders that caused many Tutsis to flee to neighboring countries after Rwanda became 1962. There were also mass killings of Hutus in Rwanda and also in Burundi in the 1970’s. Given that complex background, the 1994 genocide must be understood within the context of Rwanda’s civil war. That war was shaped by regional dynamics such as the persecution of ethnic Tutsis in Uganda, who were under great pressure to leave there prior to the 1990 RPF invasion of Rwanda during the Habyarimana regime.

** The term reconciliation refers here to informal as well as formal efforts to promote justice, tolerance, and understanding, to create a stable, long-lasting peace.

One Response to “Preface to the stories of Hutu rescuers”

  1. muhizi samuel Says:

    Muraho, nitwa muhizi Samuel, nagize amahirwe yogusoma amakuru ari kururubuga rwanyu, genocide yabaye mfite imyaka umunani mfite byinshi shaka kuvugana namwe. inomero yange in 0788548963

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