By Pierre-Claver Ndacyayisenga
Since 1990 in Rwanda, contrary to what the Tutsi experienced as a community, this when the Rwandan Patriotic Front rebel movement attacked from Uganda the country of its members’ origin, the fate of the Hutu community has rarely been positively highlighted. The latter has instead most frequently been obscured or even denied any space for the sake of the former, or western interests, particularly US and UK.
For example when Christian Davenport and Allan Stam, after their field research study, estimated that more than one million deaths occurred in Rwanda from April through July 1994, concluding that the “majority of victims were likely Hutu and not Tutsi,” they were decried by many circles fed with the official narrative of the Rwandan genocide.
Initially sponsored by the ICTR, but later dropped by it, the Davenport-Stam work shows convincingly that the theaters where the killing was greatest correlated with spikes in RPF activity (i.e., with RFP “surges,” in their terminology), as a series of RPF advances, particularly in the month of April 1994, created roving patterns of killing. When these two researchers revealed in Kigali the findings of their research, they were expelled and almost silenced thereafter.
On what Hutus who fled to the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1994, little has been written by the victims/survivors of Paul Kagame’s wars in that country. The book of Marie-Beatrice Umutesi – ‘Surviving the Slaughter: The Ordeal of a Rwandan Refugee in Zaire,’ is among the few published testimonies of the Calvary of that community’s harrowing experience.
Dying to Live by Pierre-Claver Ndacyayisenga comes as another written testimony by a survivor of the Long Walk that thousands of Hutu refugees did across DRC but that very few finished. This author and his family were among the tiny minority who survived to tell the story of those who will never do.
I was prompted to this testimony while watching and listening to an interview of the Canadian journalist/writer Robin Philpot, author of the book – It didn’t happen that way in Kigali. He was interviewed by Laure Uwase from Jambonews. To access the full interview, please click on the name of the interviewer.
As some Hutu survivors come to term with their long suffering – of course those who are still around, it is a moral duty to honor those who did not manage to make it, by putting out and publishing their experiences for their own sake and that of future generations, because this is part of the Rwandan history in its ethnic and complex diversity. Missing to provide their testimony on their part would be like refusing to participate to a patriotic act. They would be failing to accomplish some of their mission when they came into this world.