Genocide survivor treks 1200 kilometres in ‘walk for peace’

Ntigurilirwa in Nyabugogo as he entered Kigali towards Kigali Genocide Memorial. Courtesy.

It has been about 100 days since Hyppolite Ntigurirwa, a genocide survivor started a 1200 kilometer journey across Rwanda, reminding people of the need for their active work towards peace.

This is as opposed to the common habit among humans of only asking for peace.

The 32 year old was just seven when the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi broke out.

Ntigurilirwa and his partner lay a wreath at a mass grave at Kigali Genocide Memorial. Courtesy 

He lived with his family in Mibilizi in the former Cyangugu prefecture (in the current Rusizi district) when it all started, and by the end of the Genocide, he had lost over 30 family members, including his father.

The walk for peace

His journey to walk for peace started from his home village in Mibilizi in Rusizi on April 15.

He set off to Karongi, Rubavu, Musanze, Burera, Nyagatare, Kibungo, former Kigali Rural, Nayamagabe and Muhanga, before concluding the journey in the capital Kigali this Thursday.

By the time The New Times talked to him on Thursday morning, he was on his way from Ruyenzi to the Kigali Genocide Memorial where he is set to conclude his journey.

He arrived at the memorial at around midday.

He said his 100 days journey was characterised by at least two stopovers daily, where he talked to people about their responsibility in seeking peace.

“My aim was to invite people to seek peace. So my message was that if we need peace we don’t ask for it, we work for it,” he told The New Times in an interview.

“I survived the genocide against the Tutsi. I was a seven year old child and what I experienced I never want any child to experience. That is what I have been telling the communities. The peace we want to leave for our children and the generations to come is the peace we have to work for today.”

He says his survival is a miracle because he and his brother had been captured by the Interahamwe militia who held them captive for about a month before they managed to escape.

“Nonetheless, I have come through all this and I am now an adult. Promoting peace is the only way I can honour the memory of my loved ones.”

Ntigurirwa is a theater artist and researcher who identifies himself as an everyday peace activist.

He founded an organisation – Be The Peace – dedicated to preventing intergenerational transmission of hate.

His work focuses on using art to halt the intergenerational transmission of hate.