Thomas and His Mother, Josette

Kigali, Rwanda

Thomas and Josette.

Thomas and Josette.


Perhaps you heard about me being very violent in the past. I tried to attack my mother, but now I am grateful that in the past few months my relationship with her has improved. I can now sit with her and we can talk, and I tell her what hurts me and what plans I have. We talk like mother and son.

My mother told me about how during the genocide so many people were killed, including many of her relatives, and how she was lucky to escape. She was taken to Congo, which was a very long journey, and how she came back to Rwanda after the genocide and that I was born as a result of her being raped during that time. She shared with me how she was struggling and had to work in casual labor in order to support me and support our family.

My mother told me that I was born as a result of the violent rapes committed during the genocide. All along I couldn't understand this, but when I think of how I am today, I think I don't need to know who my father is, it is not helpful for me. I remember my mother telling me about how I was born, how she went to the hospital and had no money to pay the hospital and how she hid me in a bucket and escaped because she was poor and could not pay the bill for the hospital.

I was 18 years old when my mother disclosed to me the circumstances that led to my birth. I was on my way to play football, but she called me to come to the bedroom and said she had something to tell me, so I sat on the bed. I could see on her face that something was weighing on her, I could see that she was different, a bit sad. She told me about the terrible things she went through during the genocide, and that I was conceived as a result of her being raped. I listened to her and was unhappy, I was depressed, I didn't have much to say.

My mother’s older sister was killed during the genocide by the same man who had raped my mother. He raped my aunt, and killed her. One of my relatives where I was staying used to say in front of me, “Your aunt was killed by a man who also raped your mother.” That relative used to direct those words at me in a negative way, but this is how I got the general picture of who is my father, and how I was born…

Being born as a result of rape affected my life in a way that contributed to my violent behavior. The confusion of not knowing the truth about how I was born and who my father is actually led to my behavior. But now that my mother confirmed this to me, I decided that I would move on with life and would take that as the truth. I now understand my mother and what she went through, because I now realize it was not easy for her to tell me, and I understand her. Some of the ways that my bad behavior was manifested was by speaking to my mother without any respect.

I now understand that my mother went through difficult things in order to raise my sister and myself. She was struggling as a single mother to provide for two children to have food and to be able to attend school. I know that she still has to work hard, to ensure we are getting a better future. Whatever my mother does, is because she loves me. There is no way she would bring me up from being a baby to who I am today if she didn't care. So I think whatever fights we had, she did it because she loves me. Although we had bad times I still took my mother as my mother because she did a lot for me, the fights could have been misunderstood, but I always think she is the best mother. Even in this village, the local leaders single out my mother as an exemplary single mother raising two children from an early age.

I used to feel bad knowing that my father is a killer and rapist, and I used to feel stigma about being born from a person who killed people; it used to make me feel very bad. We all want to be identified as good people, and being identified as the son of a bad person used to hurt me very much, but recently I decided that I consider him as never having existed, like he is not my father. So it no longer bothers me because I decided to wipe him out of my life. He is not there. I am here and I have a mother, I don't want to know anything more about my father.

- Thomas, son of Josette, 2018

07a_Thomas son of Jossete_DIPTYCH.jpg