Isaac and His Mother, Yvette

Rusizi, Rwanda

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I did not experience the genocide, but I have heard people talk about it and my mother personally has talked to me about what happened during the genocide and how I was born. My mother disclosed to me the circumstances of how I was born after I asked her many questions about my father. So when I was about 16 years old my mother told me how she was raped by the Interahamwe (Hutu militia killers). These were men who raped women and killed people, and she does not know who my father was, but he was among the killers who raped her.

When my mother told me about how I was born I felt sad and depressed, but I was able to take it in and accept it. I asked my mother why she had taken so long to tell me, and she said that she wanted to tell me only when I was old enough to contain the experience that she shared with me. I did not want anything to do with knowing who my father was. It affected me badly to feel that I am a product of a killer, of someone who has no value to humanity.

Whenever there were needs we could not meet and I saw other kids with their fathers, I was prompted to ask my mother where my father was – seeing the support the other kids were getting from their fathers made me want to know who my father was. Whenever I asked my mother who my father was, she would say he died during the genocide. But I wanted to know what kind of death did he die, and to know if he had other relatives. But my mother would simply say, “Oh, your father died.” Before my mother sat with me and told me the whole story, I did not have a clue about who my father was.

After my mother told me the truth about my birth, I sympathized with her, and I realized how hard she worked to ensure that I am alive and that I grew up, my love for her increased because I saw how much she sacrificed for me to be alive… My mother loved me and gave me her love, and whatever she expected from me I did. Honestly I don't know what my ethnicity is, not Hutu and not Tutsi. I don't want to be identified by either Tutsi or Hutu, I want to be identified as Rwandese. To me it doesn’t matter if someone is Hutu or Tutsi; I look at people the same way. I never experienced a situation where I had to say whether I am Tutsi or Hutu, these discussions are not acceptable and one can be punished if they are caught discussing the different ethnic groups, but I consider myself Rwandese.

-Isaac, son of Yvette, 2018

 
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