Frontline World

RWANDA - After the Genocide, December 2003
a FRONTLINE/World Fellows project
7/3/03 7/7/03 7/11/03 7/15/03 7/19/03 7/19/03 7/20/03 7/23/03
7/23/03 A House on the Hill pacifique mukeshima Domina Nyirandayambaje Aloys Habimana
people on the street in kigali
A woman carries a basket of fruit down one of Kigali's many hills.
Getting ready to leave in the morning. I've spent the last few days interviewing talking heads -- U.S. embassy people, human rights NGOs, gacaca lawyers, a genocide survivors group, etc. -- in Kigali.

The lawyer from the genocide survivors group -- who became increasingly animated during our interview -- had the most chilling thing to say. I was just packing up to go when he added this final thought: "If there is another genocide, I think it will not be just Hutu killing Tutsi like in 1994. Next time, both sides will suffer." He was the first person I've spoken to here who explicitly talked about the possibility of violence in the future.

doug's press pass
My Rwandan press pass.
It's hard to feel especially hopeful about the gacaca process right now, given all the other problems this country faces. Aloys Habimana, who monitors prison conditions for Rwanda's only independent human rights organization, said he thought that the gacaca courts can be an important first step toward truth telling, but no form of justice can solve all of the country's problems. "Sometimes I get discouraged, I feel desperate, and think that maybe it will take a very long time for this country to recover," he told me.

A few evenings ago, Joseph and I found Adrienne Mukamuaenge, the old woman who had accused the prisoner in the gacaca I saw here in Kigali a week and a half ago. To get to her house, we made our way along dirt paths through a warren of homes crowded onto a hillside.

We sat on her couch while she told us how, in May 1994, the killers came at 2 in the morning to a nearby home where she was hiding with her husband and others. While she hid in the bushes, a woman pointed out her husband and said: "Here is the father of a cockroach."

Rwanda's Neighborhood
United Nations Involvement
Root of Hutu/Tutsi Tension
Rwandan Civil War, 1990-1994
Rwanda's 1994 Genocide
Rwandan Patriotic Front
Paul Kagame
I asked her to show us the house that had been discussed in the gacaca, the one that her husband and the others had been taken from and subsequently killed. She led us down the hill and into the backyard of another home, where a woman was frying dough over a fire. We peered over the bamboo fence at a large, tin-roofed house.

It was a bit of a letdown, given the home's history. There was nothing to distinguish this place from any of the other houses on the hill. At that moment -- with the setting sun, the smell of the fritters and the view across to a distant hillside -- it didn't seem possible that this could be the spot where something so terrible had occurred.

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