A Question to Immaculee Ilibagiza and Pauline Kayitare

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Pauline Kayitare

I have always admired how stonger both ladies, Immaculee and Pauline came out of the tragedy that befelled their respective families and their will to pass on the message of forgiveness and courage to our generation. But I have a question to ask.

Immaculee ilibagiza, whose entire family was killed during the genocide, survived for 91 days with other seven other women during the Rwandan Genocide in a damp and small bathroom. In her book “Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust” she shares her miraculous story and the importance of forgiveness and the meaning of truly unconditional love and understanding.

Pauline Kayitare was thirteen years old when the Tutsi genocide started in Rwanda. In her newly released book “Tu leur diras que tu es hutue“, she recounts how, having lost her mother, her brothers and sisters, she decided to desperately escape the killings by throwing herself into the Lake Kivu. Instead a miracle occurs when her pursuers caught her into their boat. Pauline told them she was a Hutu like them. The killers believed her and released her in a nearby island. She later found her father with whom she stayed in hiding in the island for three months. I encourage anyone to read this very inspirational book.

I am a Rwandan woman, born of a Hutu and a Tutsi parents. I lost family members in the hands of hutu militia (interahamwe) during the genocide. Also other members of my family lost their lives in the hands of Tutsi soldiers (Inkotanyi) right at the start of the genocide and in the aftermath of the war.

Most of my loved ones killed by Interahamwe have always been remembered and honored and justice has been done for their deaths. In contrary, my family members who were killed by Tutsi soldiers of RPF have never been honored. There have been other tens of thousands of Hutus who were killed before, during and after the genocide in Rwanda and outside of Rwanda. Rwandan community does not talk openly about them nor is there a place or memorial symbol for their remembrance. There have never been justice for the numerous crimes committed by Tutsi soldiers.

Do you ever take the opportunity to acknowledge to your audience that, although your parents’ killers were hutus, also ordinary Hutus people have suffered during the same period you survived the genocide? Do you believe that there are thousands of Hutus boys and girls, who were going through almost the same experience as you and other many Tutsi did in 1994?

Immaculee Ilibagiza

The reason I am asking this question to you, Immaculee and Pauline, is because I went through similar experience and I now share with many the belief that it is fundamental that Rwandans learn to tell the whole truth and accept the wrong that has been done to our people as a whole so that we can achieve true forgiveness and true reconciliation.

There are thousands of Hutus boys and girls, who were going through almost the same experience as you and other many Tutsi did in 1994.

As you advocate forgiveness and reconciliation, remember there can never be genuine message of “unconditional love and understanding” in the absence of acceptance of fairness. I am not asking to turn yourselves into politicians nor to judge anyone but let your message be complete.

There is a silent community listening to you.

Feel free to drop me a message.

Claire Umurungi

(clairemrungi@live.com)

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