FOR MANY YEARS, Rwandan actress Rosine Bazongere grappled with an experience that haunted her and led her to contemplating suicide until she decided to speak out about the traumatising part of her life.
The 25-year-old actress and model was raped at the age of 20 in Kampala, Uganda by her friend. In an interview with The New Times, Bazongere recalled her ordeal, which until now she still tries to come to terms with.
After S3, Bazongere dropped out of school, since her relatives could not afford to continue paying school fees for her. She decided to go to the Ugandan capital Kampala, where she had other relatives, in a bid to try and make ends meet.
“When I dropped out of school, I decided to go to Kampala to look for a job because I had relatives there,” she says.
“I wasn’t sure of my fate, but I decided to take chances, hoping I could get a job, save some money and then return to school. Unfortunately, it never went to plan,” Bazongere says.
While in Kampala, Bazongere met a man. As the relationship blossomed, he started making advances and asking her out.
She refused to give in, because she was not ready for a serious relationship at the time. After a few months, the man started introducing her to his friends, and taking her to parties.
On one fateful evening, he invited her to a certain party at one of his friend’s house. Nothing seemed unusual, and the party was quite exciting – only that Bazongere wasn’t familiar with the place and the only person she knew there was her friend.
As soon as the party ended, Bazongere requested him to take her home, because it was getting a bit late. They said their good-byes to their hosts, Bazongere stepped into the man’s car. Instead of driving, the man came and raped her and threatened to harm her if she attempted to scream or report him.
“I felt horrible and terrified! It was rape. And a devastating betrayal by a person I had trusted and thought he would protect me. He really dehumanised me and made me feel worthless,” she claims.
After he had raped her, Bazongere says he told her that he loved her and couldn’t take it anymore after she had rejected his advances.
Wounds as a young mother
Bazongere says the incident left her with permanent physical and psychological wounds that she is still dealing with today.
“I had not realised that I was pregnant. But after finding out, I told him that I was pregnant. He promised to support me and my baby. And he said he would kill me if I dared to abort.”
“I thought that was ridiculous because I had no intentions of aborting, because I’m aware of the risks that sometimes come along with it,” she continues.
Things seemed to be moving on pretty well, despite the rape incident, and she seemed to have accepted her alleged rapist into her life since he had promised to take care of her and their baby, until one day when she started receiving threats from a woman who claimed to be his wife.
“It was so strange and I thought someone was trying to scare me, because he had never told me he was married or was into a serious relationship with someone else,” she says.
“The lady started calling me and threatened to kill me if I don’t stop seeing her husband. I confronted him about it, and he admitted to having a wife and children. This was a major blow to me, and I wondered why he had to hide it from me this long as he continued to use me,” she recalls.
I later on found out that he wanted to make me his second wife, which I refused.
Bazongere says that from then on, the man stopped giving her financial support and started dodging her.
“Life became extremely difficult. I was so heavy with no job, and I didn’t want to become a burden to my relatives,” she narrates.
She never saw him again. This made her feel betrayed, and on several occasions contemplated committing suicide.
In 2014, she gave birth to her child and decided to return to Rwanda. Bazongere went to live with her parents in Kayonza, where she stayed for a short time, before relocating to Kigali after a friend got her a job.
Venturing into the film industry
As a child, Bazongere says she wished to one day become an actress, but felt the dream was farfetched due to the hardships she endured.
“These situations left a wound in my life, but, luckily, I have been able to pick myself up and focus. So, I once told my cousin sister that I like acting, she connected me with another actor but who was a beginner in the career,”
“This young actor then introduced me to a director, who gave me a test, and after passing, I cast the first movie ‘Impeta,’” she says.
Today, Bazongere has proved to be among the most talented actresses in Rwanda’s film industry. She has appeared in eight movies, including the popular Rwandan series like, ‘City Maid’, ‘Seburikoko’, and ‘Sarigoma’. She also has a project, which she says has an impact on teen mothers, who often need help to overcome the trauma and depression that comes with it.
She uses different social media platforms, especially her YouTube channel, “Her friends”, where she inspires young girls who might have encountered such issues.Follow ByishimoBertra3