The rest of the world yesterday joined Rwanda in the 15th commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against Tutsis a dark period in the country’s history in which over one million people were slaughtered.
As President Paul Kagame officially lit the candle of hope amid consolation messages from other various presidents, Judithe Mukamana narrated to The New Times how she survived after witnessing her mother being raped to death.
“I was only five years old when the killers captured me and the whole of my family. Shortly after, my father and brothers were driven off to an unknown place where I later discovered they were killed,” Mukamana said.
During the interview, she sadly reminisced the events that preceded her abduction and what remains conspicuous in her mind is the scenario in which her own mother was raped several times until she could hardly even say a word.
“My mother was helplessly raped by different men until she was too weak to walk, stand or even talk. At this moment they threatened to chop me into pieces if I did not run away and I had no choice but to flee for my life,” Mukamana said, tears welling up.
She recalls that as she ran away from the killers without even looking back, she heard a gun shot and knew it was all over for her mother.
The 20 year old senior five accountancy student at APAPER Secondary School in Kacyiru broke down several times as she told her shocking ordeal for the first time since she was deprived of her whole family.
The interview with Mukamana took place at the Amahoro National Stadium where thousands had gathered in a vigil to mark the first day of the week-long national mourning. It is at the same event that President Kagame and different renowned celebrities lit the Candles of Hope.
As horrific as the untold story of Mukamana is, it is also as common. The life of Janvier Butera has also been broken by human madness. While hiding in the bush with his uncle, four men began to attack him with their machetes.
“He pleaded with the militia to kill him to that stopped suffering from the torture and as this happened, the militias told me to run and join people at the Red Cross Centre and then they hacked him to death with their machetes,” recalls 22 year old Butera.
Butera was only three years old when lost his parents and it had never been easy to continue life without them even under the custody of his uncle who also eventually died in 1994.
“It’s not that easy to survive alone, to go to school and become successful in your studies when you have nobody to care about you and encourage you. Because I had no choice, I had to carry on both for myself and for my parents. It is only that keeps me going,” he narrates.
Butera is only happy that today, just 15 years later his country has made astonishing progress in reconstructing itself.
The student at Rwanda’s Independent University is currently supported by the Genocide Survivor’s Fund (FARG).