Reconciliation in Rwanda - Stories of Rescue
In English
in kinyarwanda


    This web log has been created to encourage a long-lasting peace in Rwanda, a stable peace which must be based upon mutual understanding, respect, and trust between Hutus and Tutsis. Most of these pages will consist of stories and narratives describing how many Rwandans struggled to save one another in the face of monstrous evil. It will be administered by Paul Conway, Professor of Political Science at the State University College of New York at Oneonta, and Stephen Gatsinzi and Edmond Murenzi in Kigali.     

   Mahmood Mamdani has suggested that most Rwandans today should be considered survivors, having endured enormous suffering in the mass killings and injustices of the past.* Many have suffered grievously from crimes that should never be forgotten. Certainly, all of those who committed violent crimes such as murder and rape should be punished. The stories below are evidence that despite the extensive and widespread participation of Hutus in the 1994 genocide, there were some who refused to cooperate in the killings and atrocities. Those who actively resisted were a minority, but many did try to save Tutsis and risked their own lives in doing so. An unknown number of those individuals were killed. That fact must be acknowledged for 'reconciliation' to happen.**

   The stories of rescue come from a variety of published and unpublished sources including interviews conducted in 2007. Some of the stories are briefly summarized in a power point presentation here. Although most of the stories are recorded in English, some are in Kinyarwanda and some in French. Readers in Rwanda are encouraged to respond in any of these languages. In addition to the stories of rescuers, a number of useful essays and studies that suggest insights into the strengths and weaknesses of reconciliation efforts will be listed below. There is no suggestion that outsiders know or can tell Rwandans how best to pursue the difficult path to a hopeful and peaceful future. Rwandans themselves will decide in their own communities as part of a still proud, independent nation.  

* In the conclusion to his analysis entitled 'When Victims Become Killers,' (Princeton University Press, 2001) Mamdani emphasizes that the historical roots of the genocide go back to the Rwabugiri reforms at the turn of the previous century and subsequent colonial 'reforms' from 1926-36 that racialized Tutsi identity and hardened Tutsi privilege. There were numerous mass murders that caused many Tutsis to flee to neighboring countries after Rwanda became 1962. There were also mass killings of Hutus in Burundi in the 1970's. Given that background the subsequent genocide in 1994 must be understood within the context of  Rwanda's civil war that was shaped by regional dynamics such as the persecution of ethnic Tutsis in Uganda, who were under great pressure to leave prior to the 1990 RPF invasion of the Rwanda's Habyarimana regime. 

** The term reconciliation refers here to informal as well as formal efforts to promote justice, tolerance, and understanding, to create a stable, long-lasting peace.


Please forward comments or questions to Paul Conway,

en frances