The Truth Unveiled: A Testimony from a Rwandan Genocide Survivor

(Photo: Plough Publishing House)

(Photo: Plough Publishing House)

Sydney A. Brobbey

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Twenty-five years ago, one of the most unimaginable things occurred: the infamous Rwandan Genocide.

The Rwandan Genocide began on April 6, 1994 and lasted for 100 days until July 1994. In an event where 800,000 individuals were brutally murdered, it is devastating to learn that this genocide stemmed from a tribal feud between the Hutus and Tutsis.

The Hutus were the largest ethnic group in Rwanda at the time, whereas the Tutsis were the minority. However, the Tutsis ruled Rwanda for an extended period of time, which led to the the fueling of anger within the Hutus.

As revenge, the Hutus sought to expel the Tutsi minority, and, to their infamous success, they murdered hundreds of thousands of Tutsis.

Before the Hutus executed their iniquitous deed, the Tutsis formed a notorious rebel group, known as the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), in 1990. They then invaded Rwanda and continued to fight until 1993, when a peace deal was arranged.

The genocide was sparked by the traumatic plane shooting of the then Rwandan president, Juvenal Habyarimana, a notable Hutu. Hutu extremists blamed the RPF and immediately began their odyssey of slaughter.

In this horrendous incident, neighbors killed neighbors, husbands killed wives, and friends killed friends. Furthermore, thousands of women were taken away and kept as sex slaves. Such was a woman named Denise Uwimana, a Rwandan genocide survivor.

Denise Uwimana, although not a sex slave, was a pregnant woman who endured the stinging pain of seeing her loved ones killed. Moreover, upon seeing them killed, she was made to take refuge in their blood and forced to give birth to her baby in this condition. Uwimana states, “ I breathed in blood.”

Near and dear to her heart were the neighbors that she had in the midst of the bloody chaos. Uwimana claimed that she “ knew that [she] and her children would have been dead many times over, had it not been for [her] few Hutu friends watching over [them]…they were angels sent from God.”

As she endured the turmoil of the genocide, she received unbearable news that her husband had been murdered, leaving her widowed at twenty-nine. Prior to his death, Uwimana says, “he just embraced [her]…told [her] he loved her, and he went.”

During this time, Uwimana began to distrust God, claiming that “He disappointed [her].” In essence, she could not believe that the country — one that was overwhelmingly Christian — could have incited such an event. However, she grew to come to terms with God, trekking on a journey to forgiveness and healing, an odyssey she references in her book From Red Heart.

Since the genocide, Uwimana has dedicated herself to protesting matters of racism, standing upon the grounds that no one ethnic group is superior or inferior to the other. She has founded Iriba Shalom International, a non-profit that helps genocide survivors find forgiveness and reconciliation.