Annet and Her Son Peter

Kibuye Rwanda

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I look at the people who killed our families, not necessarily as enemies, but as people who should be forgiven because they didn’t know what they were doing. You know it is beyond comprehension. Even animals cannot behave like militias behaved. That’s why I say maybe they didn’t know what they were doing. What they did is beyond what an animal can do, a beast can do. So in order for one to recover, just ignore them and assume as if they don’t exist, that is why I’m saying we forgive them, because they didn’t know what they were doing. I don’t know how to explain it, but you forgive someone who understands that they need to be forgiven. In one of my ordeals in the jungle, I lived with a small bear in the bush. It never touched me, for a week. When I got out of the jungle a militia cut me. Now, who is more understanding between the beast and the Hutu?

I was raped many times, I can’t really remember very well, but the first man brought in three others, the second one, the son of the local leader, didn’t bring in any men. He held me alone; he never shared me with anyone. The third one brought in different men, at different times more than three men. I don’t exactly remember, but he also brought in several of his friends. It was all brutal. Mainly they had sex after killing. They came from killing when they were very, very annoyed like they are animals and they come for sex.

For a long time I have been traumatized. There was a time that whenever I went to bed I could see people moving with machetes and men, violent men, raping me. Those nightmares I had for a long time. But after meeting the counselors from AVEGA (Association of Widows of Genocide) I think I’m a bit more stabilized. Whenever I talk about what happened to me I feel relieved. If someone says there was no genocide I feel like running mad. If people say it never happened, let them come and see the cuts, the things that I have, the scars. I was not born with these scars, and many others have them; why? I want to tell the world that genocide happened in Rwanda, it’s not a rumor. What we went through, no one should go through again. Genocide should never happen again. The effects of genocide are very fresh on us, we have children born as a result of this violence. These children are everybody’s responsibility. It is our wish that they go to school, because if you go to school you have a better life, and if you have a better life you don’t get involved in bad things. And if my son can study and become a better person and an important person in this country, I would also become an important person…

It was three o’clock, I witnessed my father, my mother, and my uncles being killed. My father was hit with clubs, he’s the one they hit first with clubs on the head, I saw him being killed. My mother was carrying a baby on her back. They hit her with stones, but she didn’t die immediately. Then they threw her in Lake Kivu with the baby but accompanied it with stones and clubs to make sure she dies and doesn’t float on the water. All my brothers and sisters were first cut with machetes, so maybe this is why I survived because they cut me last and the militiamen were tired. But all of them were killed apart from my elder sister who survived, I witnessed them all being killed. My sister also has wounds and scars like mine. My elder brother tried to run away from them. They cut off both his legs before killing him. My other brother whom we were trying to run away with, they used a sharp metal and hit him directly in the head. It went deep into the head, and when they got it out he fell down, but he was holding me by the hand, another militia cut off that hand and my brother fell to his death, then they started following me. My elder sister was also raped, terribly raped. After raping her they put pieces of wood and a sharp metal in her vagina. The other sister was shot in the stadium. My only surviving sister is that one who was cut with machetes, she’s still alive today. The last born, the baby that was on my mother’s back, was killed with my mother by stones at the lake. After seeing all that I told one of the militias who was in a boat, “You see, all my relatives have died, kill me also.” Then he said, “Put your neck on the side of the boat.” I put my neck on the boat and he cut it with a machete, but he never killed me. He went and left me alive.

I don’t understand why they did that. Honestly, I don’t understand. The person who cut me, who told me to put my neck on the boat, was a boy who stayed in our home. For years we shared food, all along I thought he was one of us. My father had given a cow to one of the people who killed him. I don’t understand – we were, we were like friends before. How they turned overnight I don’t understand.

I had a resentment of men,  but I was feeling that if I don’t have a man I would be raped again, so I got married, but my husband is very old, He’s 64. So I saw in him the image of a father. I took refuge in him immediately after 9’4. So in ’95 I married him. To be honest, at first I didn’t love him. I just wanted him for protection, but as years have rolled by I think I love him. And you know he also lost his wife and eight children during the genocide. So he is like, he’s like a father to me. He knows what I went through, he knows every detail. But he doesn’t want the boy to be hurt. He doesn’t want the boy to know anything. Of course the child is the child of a militia, even to me he is a child of a militia, but the agony and suffering I went through is much heavier than carrying this child. Because I had suffered, and lost all my family, the feeling that I got when I gave birth and saw it was a boy, I thought I had gotten another brother. I love him so much because through trouble, through all I went through, he’s just a gift, he’s a consolation.


-Annet, mother of Peter, 2006

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