Thursday, April 06, 2006

Tharcisse Mukama


About the history of segregation & resulting conflict in Rwanda


I was born in Ruhengeri and so were my father, grandfather and great-grandfather. I finished school in 1942 and married in 1950. Then in 1959, King Rudahigwa died and Kigeri was put on the throne. Jérôme Bicamumpaka opposed this and passed word to the Hutu about eradicating Tutsi. War broke out. The next thing we knew, our houses were being set on fire by the Hutu amongst us. They were our friends and neighbours, but they had been taught propaganda about Tutsi. Nevertheless, they didn’t kill anybody then; it was just burning houses. We all ran to the churches. The people who had gone to the provincial town were all packed in cars and sent off to Bugesera. I had my own land, so I went back to it. Vitari Basekwa, the leader of my hill, told me to go to Bugesera right away. I didn’t even sleep at my house that night. Early next morning, I left for Nyamata as a refugee with my two kids, my wife, my mother and grandmother.

They sent us to this area because it was a bad place with forests, wild animals and the tsetse fly. But the land was fertile and we had good rain, so we had good harvests and settled there. In 1963, those who had fled to Burundi invaded, but their attack failed. Then there were some killings of Tutsi, but only of those who were rich or educated. We stayed at home but others ran to the church. In 1966, there were killings again. We took refuge in the church. Soon it was over and we went home. Every time we went back, we had to rebuild our homes. Every time they killed, they also looted and burned. If you had crops, you would find empty fields. If you had a cow, it was eaten. You had to start all over again. That was the way of life for Tutsi in Bugesera. In 1973, Habyarimana removed President Kayibanda in a coup. In 1990 the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) attacked from Uganda.

Then in 1994 Habyarimana’s plane was shot down. Things got bad. People ran. They came to Nyamata, and because there were roadblocks no one could go back. Killings started here on 11 April. We fought for two days. Up to then, they had been fighting with bows and arrows, which we also had. On the third day, we saw a man called Murekezi going up in the air, then we heard the gunshot and he fell to the ground. He was our best archer. When this happened, we ran. The next morning we saw fires everywhere and heard gunshots from all corners. Most of the people ran into the Ntarama church, but we ran into the tall grass in the valley. My wife died there; she was with my children. I had eight children; six died in the genocide.

Before 1959, Hutus and Tutsis got on well together. There was no problem at all. The Hutus weren’t mean, it was other people who taught them bad things. They taught them first to burn houses and then, thinking that was not enough, they taught them to kill. I think things will get better, now that segregation no longer exists. In the past, we had our race written on our identity cards; first it said which clan a person belonged to, then later they changed it to race. Today, it has been removed; if things continue this way, they’ll get better. We fight segregation today. People are one. Children are taught as one, taught the same things by the same teacher. If people are united at such an early stage, they will not become separated again. Division is created by bad leadership. The Rwandan government is fighting against segregation. This gives me hope. I do have hope in the future. The most important thing everyone asks for is peace – even if you have only a little to eat, to be able to eat it in peace. Even though I’m old, I ask for peace and I have it now. I am sad, but I have peace. I’m in a peaceful country.

11 Comments:

At 6:51 AM, Blogger Owen said...

I'm sorry Mr Mukama's story is trivialised by the spam comments. I'm glad after his sadness at least he is able to feel at peace now. His experiences help me appreciate how fortunate my life has been.

 
At 8:10 AM, Blogger Owen said...

It's not clear who this blog is administered by? Is it Aegis Trust?

 
At 4:51 AM, Blogger Administrator said...

Apologies for those SPAM postings - they have now been deleted.

This site is being administered by Metrodome Film Distribution, the UK Distributor of SHOOTING DOGS. Please visit this blog's partner site for more information on the film: www.shootingdogsfilm.blogspot.com

The Aegis Trust have however played an important role in aiding the SHOOTING DOGS campaign that aims to bring Rwanda and contemporary genocide to the forefront of public consciuosness. The film itself has functioned as an important platform and channel through which these issues can reach a mass audience.

AEGIS have been very helpful in helping us source material for both blog sites.

 
At 5:55 AM, Blogger Owen said...

Thanks a lot for the information. It would be helpful to have the background information more clearly displayed. I'm very glad that you're making these poignant personal accounts available in this way.

 
At 3:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ni nde wakwandiye iyi nkuru? ese uremeza ko akarengane kashize koko?

 
At 10:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gov’t to seek advice on genocide movies
By CHARLOTTE KYAKWERA & STEVEN BAGUMA
Sunday, 23 April 2006
The government is to seek advice from countries that have experienced genocide and from credible international lawyers, on how to handle genocide movies whose directors and producers have reportedly digressed from their purported goals.According to Joseph Habineza, the Minister of Youth, Culture and Sports, the move follows persistent outcries by genocide survivors...



that the movies do not depict the 1994 Genocide. “This is a very controversial issue. We have to consult with people like the Jews who, among other people faced genocide, international lawyers and other stakeholders and see how we can approach it,” Habineza told The New Times on phone Friday, April 21. The Minister, however, noted that the movie producers and directors are private businesspeople who only seem to take into consideration international business and cinematography laws.
“This means that we need to seek legal and stakeholder advice before tackling the matter,” he said.
Asked to comment on actor Paul Rusesabagina’s 5% pledge from the proceeds of the movie Hotel Rwanda to the genocide survivors, Habineza answered: “I am in contact with Terry George, the Irish Director and Co-writer of the movie to find out about the issue.”
Genocide movies have in the recent past attracted serious criticism, with most people uneasy that the proceeds are not channeled into helping the survivors and the victims’ families.
At a function organised by the American Embassy on Thursday, April 20 to honour the staff of the American Embassy who were killed during the genocide, Evariste Kalisa, the Head of Memorial Department in IBUKA, lambasted the producers and urged the international community to denounce the films.
“They are just mocking the genocide survivors, enriching themselves and distorting facts of the genocide,” a bitter Kalisa, a Member of Parliament, said.
A fortnight ago, IBUKA President François Xavier Ngarambe, also lashed out at the films, saying they were deceptive.
“These films have not been helpful in any way; they have not offered anything like financial assistance to the survivors and nearly all of them do not portray the exact realities of the Rwandan Genocide,” Ngarambe said.
The survivors argue that the genocide movies: 100 Days, Sometimes in April, Hotel Rwanda, Shooting Dogs, and documentaries Keepers of Memory and Through My Eyes are yet to give any financial assistance to survivors, and to truly depict the genocide.

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At 12:09 AM, Blogger kisiki said...

This story is touching and I know Peace will come to Rwanda, when we believe we are one (blacks.

One love africa.

Kisiki

 
At 11:22 PM, Blogger Charli McLain said...

Thank you for sharing what has happened in your life. That you have helped create an archive of what happened in Rwanda is powerful. Your words may help save someone someday in another place where hopefully the world will not turn it's back on genocide.

 
At 11:05 AM, Blogger Team Rwanda said...

Tharcisse Mukama


About the history of segregation & resulting conflict in Rwanda


I was born in Ruhengeri and so were my father, grandfather and great-grandfather. I finished school in 1942 and married in 1950. Then in 1959, King Rudahigwa died and Kigeri was put on the throne. Jérôme Bicamumpaka opposed this and passed word to the Hutu about eradicating Tutsi. War broke out. The next thing we knew, our houses were being set on fire by the Hutu amongst us. They were our friends and neighbours, but they had been taught propaganda about Tutsi. Nevertheless, they didn’t kill anybody then; it was just burning houses. We all ran to the churches. The people who had gone to the provincial town were all packed in cars and sent off to Bugesera. I had my own land, so I went back to it. Vitari Basekwa, the leader of my hill, told me to go to Bugesera right away. I didn’t even sleep at my house that night. Early next morning, I left for Nyamata as a refugee with my two kids, my wife, my mother and grandmother.

They sent us to this area because it was a bad place with forests, wild animals and the tsetse fly. But the land was fertile and we had good rain, so we had good harvests and settled there. In 1963, those who had fled to Burundi invaded, but their attack failed. Then there were some killings of Tutsi, but only of those who were rich or educated. We stayed at home but others ran to the church. In 1966, there were killings again. We took refuge in the church. Soon it was over and we went home. Every time we went back, we had to rebuild our homes. Every time they killed, they also looted and burned. If you had crops, you would find empty fields. If you had a cow, it was eaten. You had to start all over again. That was the way of life for Tutsi in Bugesera. In 1973, Habyarimana removed President Kayibanda in a coup. In 1990 the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) attacked from Uganda.

Then in 1994 Habyarimana’s plane was shot down. Things got bad. People ran. They came to Nyamata, and because there were roadblocks no one could go back. Killings started here on 11 April. We fought for two days. Up to then, they had been fighting with bows and arrows, which we also had. On the third day, we saw a man called Murekezi going up in the air, then we heard the gunshot and he fell to the ground. He was our best archer. When this happened, we ran. The next morning we saw fires everywhere and heard gunshots from all corners. Most of the people ran into the Ntarama church, but we ran into the tall grass in the valley. My wife died there; she was with my children. I had eight children; six died in the genocide.

Before 1959, Hutus and Tutsis got on well together. There was no problem at all. The Hutus weren’t mean, it was other people who taught them bad things. They taught them first to burn houses and then, thinking that was not enough, they taught them to kill. I think things will get better, now that segregation no longer exists. In the past, we had our race written on our identity cards; first it said which clan a person belonged to, then later they changed it to race. Today, it has been removed; if things continue this way, they’ll get better. We fight segregation today. People are one. Children are taught as one, taught the same things by the same teacher. If people are united at such an early stage, they will not become separated again. Division is created by bad leadership. The Rwandan government is fighting against segregation. This gives me hope. I do have hope in the future. The most important thing everyone asks for is peace – even if you have only a little to eat, to be able to eat it in peace. Even though I’m old, I ask for peace and I have it now. I am sad, but I have peace. I’m in a peaceful country.

 
At 7:22 AM, Blogger janellerae.ilu said...

OMGEEPERS! I honesly feel so sory for this man and what he had to go through during the Rwandan Genocide.

 
At 11:35 AM, Blogger David said...

Genocide Commemoration Week Continues in Rwanda
Rwandans continue to commemorate the 1994 genocide today, with events scheduled through Wednesday. Emotional reactions from Rwandans show that the road to healing is long as the president vowed to commemorate the event every year so a similar tragedy will never be repeated.


Read more: http://www.globalpressinstitute.org/global-news/africa/rwanda/genocide-commemoration-week-continues-rwanda#ixzz1JF0P0cqk

 

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