BONIFACE Kalisa vividly remembers with emotions a time when he was not considered a citizen of his country but rather a target of the Interahamwe militia because of his ethnic group. He says the Genocide perpetrators drew lists of Tutsi which helped them hunt and kill them.
“They started with us (men), saying we were strong and it was a recommendation from their bosses”, Kalisa says.
“So, we started hiding on April 12. Many were killed but some of us survived. At last we got rescued by Rwanda Patriotic Army soldiers as we were hiding in the rafters of a Catholic church. Those who never made it to the rafters were all killed. Neither the Interahamwe nor the church leaders knew that we were hiding in the roof.”
Kalisa commends the few Hutus who disassociated themselves from the killers and saved some survivors including his wife and children. Immediately after the Genocide, he was depressed and lived in anguish.
He found it difficult to live with people who had committed Genocide. He went to Uganda with the intent of wiping off the memories of the tragedy.
“I felt I could not live with criminals who had killed my people, I wanted to always hide from them…... I also wanted to get rid of what I had experienced from my memory’, he explains, adding that with time, the bitter memories started fading away.
Fifteen years after the Genocide, Kalisa seems to have got back to his feet. He embarked on crop and livestock farming and says that due to good governance in the country which has preached reconciliation, he has learnt that they have to live together as a way of being patriotic.
“I now cannot imagine living anywhere outside my country. We have security due to good leadership. The only problem is that there are some people who still seem to harbour the Genocide ideology.” He only regrets that there are few Genocide perpetrators who have genuinely confessed and who truly regret their crimes.
“There are some who got involved in the atrocities against their wish, and there are those who already had a spirit of hate which still prevails in their minds up to this day,” Kalisa said.