Twenty Three Aprils later, dark hearts still linger

A dark heart roamed Zuuba village, Kigarama Sector in Kicukiro District. Deep in the night, an ogre waited for the entire village to go to bed before setting out to execute an even darker agenda, a possibly long harbored plan to raid a Genocide survivor’s house and attack his cow.

A dark heart roamed Zuuba village, Kigarama Sector in Kicukiro District. Deep in the night, an ogre waited for the entire village to go to bed before setting out to execute an even darker agenda, a possibly long harbored plan to raid a Genocide survivor’s house and attack his cow.

With anger so unimaginable, the ogre attacked the powerless cow, hit her neck with several blows of a sharp machete, each delivering a deep wound that left blood gushing from the damaged nerves; the helpless cow moaned in pain, her eyes shone with tears, asking why, why?

 

Ferdinand Muturira, a 60 year old genocide survivor was met with a ghastly sight when he woke up early in the morning, to feed the cow that he got a few years ago under the Girinka program; the cow was in pain, a pain he could feel and relate to from his ordeal 23 Aprils ago!  

 

Quickly, veterinary medics did what they could to stitch up the poor cow’s neck injuries but, unfortunately, it would succumb to its wounds, hours later. The cow had lost too much blood leading to a slow and painful death. She will never know why she died.

 

The fatal attack on Ferdinand’s cow was obviously more than just an attack on an animal.

It was a message that even after 23 years, dark hearts still linger among us, hearts whose owners, if given an opportunity, would not hesitate to attempt a repeat of the 1994 Genocide against people like Ferdinand, a Tutsi who survived the onslaught that claimed over a million others.

On Friday morning, April 7, 2017, we {various villages of Niboye sector} gathered at St. Patrick school to officially begin activities to remember the beginning of 100 days, twenty three years ago, when Tutsis across the country were targeted  to be killed.

“To them, it was a job; a job at the end of which they would report back to their commanders saying, ‘sir, we have finished the assignment.’ Pathetic as it sounds, that is how their minds were programmed,” an RDF soldier told us during a ‘sharing session’ in Niboye.

Therefore, to the ogre that attacked Ferdinand’s cow four days ago, it could be out of anger that they failed to ‘finish a job’ assigned to them twenty three years ago; that regret for a target that got away could explain the rage with which someone could repeatedly cut an innocent animal.

Such isolated incidents were common a few years ago and attackers were even more brazen in their intentions, making survivors live in fear; the drop in acts of vandalism is sign that national efforts to weed out the Genocide ideology are paying off, we can only do more!

One local leader was delivering his speech when the light rain outside suddenly broke into a heavy downpour; then he said what might have been intended to be a light remark, wondering to the audience why it rains every time they gather for such sessions in April.

Sometimes, insensitivity is unintended. This local leader should have known that in the hearts of Genocide survivors, these April rains remind them of a lot.

Many survivors today will tell you that, during the 100 dark days, when one was the only surviving person in a heap of dead bodies, a bout of rain helped wash away the blood, in the process cleaning the wounds sustained from the cuts.

Then there would be those holed up in their hideouts, for days without food or drink, and, as if in an act of natural providence, God would let the skies loose, it would rain.

As the persecutors fled to find shelter, those persecuted would tiptoe out of hiding to tap drops of rain from leaves, to quench their days’ long thirst and to clean their wounds.

Twenty Three Aprils later, these memories are as vivid in the minds of survivors as if they only happened yesterday…

The gnashing impact of a machete as it landed in the flesh of a victim, the ensuing sound of blood as it gushed out of the dying victim, the wails of little babies as they tapped the lifeless body of a bread winner with the killers, high on hatred sauntering off to the next target.

For survivors of the Genocide against the Tutsi, every April is an opportunity for the State to reassure them that they are safe and that they can live their lives without fear of being targeted.

A 40-inch TV screen was mounted in-front of the St. Patrick hall; President Paul Kagame was about to address the nation. To survivors, he is the epicenter of their hope, from leading the effort that ended the Genocide twenty three years ago to embarking on building a nation for all.

“There’s no money that can compensate the lives of our lost people; it’s the truth we are after. The past is the past. There’s nothing we can do about it. But there is something we can do about our present and the future, and we’ll do it.

Those people, who were targeted in the past, will never be targeted again and those who were not targeted won’t be targeted in the future as well. It is about not targeting anybody in the future,” President Paul Kagame reassured the nation.  

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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