Rwanda: "Life After Genocide"


Having done a lot of work in Bosnia, I was curious to understand better what had happened in Rwanda in 1994, only one year before the genocide in Srebrenica.  For this part of the work, the focus was on how people are dealing with their lives after having lived through the 1994 genocide where more than 800000 people were killed (The number is even likely to be above 1 million victims). A version of this project at the Foto 8 gallery in London (my foto 8 page). The project has also been on display at the FIFDH Geneva International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights and Nikon Pro Magazine recently selected part of this story to be featured in their magazine. The story on the Yazidi people in northern Iraq was featured in Global Geneva. Stories are available through Keystone, Switzerland.
With the hills and lake Kivu as a backdrop, Aaron Mukomeza (the son of Aminadabu Birara, the chief of the civilian resistance against the genocide) can be seen leaving the Bisesero Memorial after the day program was finished on April 7th 2014, 20 years after the genocide in Rwanda.
Marie-Jeanne lives with her twin daughters. Her husband tried to kill them during the 1994 genocide, as they were not "pure".
Marie-Jeanne Yankurije and her twins were taking care of a neighbour girl.
Marie-Jeanne lives in the middle of a banana plantation, near Kibuye. It was here, while hiding and pregnant, her ex husband tried to kill her.
Hundreds of thousands of men participated in the killings during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. Raphaël says that "he did what he was told to do". The tools were a machette and a club. He has spent 12 years and six months in prison for what he did. Today, he works as a peasent near Kibuye, not far from the border of Congo (DRC).

The kids came running as we arrived in Bisesero for the 20th commemoration of the genocide in Bisesero on April 7th 2014. The Bisesero area is where the resistance managed to fight back for longer during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. Still approximately 50000 people got killed during the 100 days between April and July 1994.
If you ever travel and visit the little village Bisesero in Rwanda, then you will find amazing views of the (1000) hills in the surrounding area. You will also see the beautiful lake Kivu with Congo (DRC) in the background. This is also where resistance was stronger during the genocide against the Tutsi in 1994.
Mucyo shows shows how the caskets are full own remains from the approximatrely 50000 people who were killed in the Bisesero area during the genocide in 1994. They were to be reburied for the 20th comemoration in 2014.
The people here are preparing for the eveing part of the commemoratin taking place on April 7th.

Janvier Munanira walks through the fields where he was left to die 20 years ago, at the age of 12. His scar in the head from the machete is still very much visible, even in this picture.
John tends to get home pretty late everyday, 7 days a week. Once at home though, the welcome committee consisting of Libie and her friend is always welcomed.
John Musha tends to get home late everyday, 7 days a week. He lives around 10 minutes walk from his café and hopes, in the future, to be able to run "Landmark" Tearoom with his girlfriend.
After arriving a few days late for work, it is not easy to agree on everything. The carpenters are disagreing on who's fault it is not to be ready.
John in his Kitchen
Carpenter working on the furniture in John's tea room.
At the computer repair store in Kigali.
John lending his phone to children.
The town hall in the city center of Kigali is offering free free wifi to all in the evening. Kigali, Rwanda, April 2017.

Walking home from work. Kigali 2017.
Kabuga is a busy suburban town outside Kigali. 
The fastest way to get around Kigali is by moto taxi.

Kigali is a busy city with fast growing economy, 23 years after the genocide in 1994.
These kids are carrying water home at the end of the day, a necessity, as there are still over 2 million people without direct access to fresh water in the country.  
Arriving at a commemoration service in a village near Musha, outside Kigali in April 2017.
I met up with Révérien at his place in Switzerland. He tells me that, his place, his home, is here, in Switzerland. On April 20th 1994, 43 members of his closest family was brutally murdered in the Rwandan genocide, in front of his eyes. Just luck, perhaps, saved him from dying. He did lose an arm, an eye and was stabbed in the face, at the back of his head, in the chest, on the shoulder and some other places.
Reverien with friends at Chez Lando, discussing the next few days on his arrival back to Rwanda.
Just opposite the church where all of Reveriens family got killed, together with several thousand others, there is a graden. As Reverien was still alive, he crawled there, on top of them, in order to get some fruits. The grounds were full of dead people and he had to walk accross them. As he met some of the killers, he begged them to kill him too. They laughed and cut his eye out.
Coming home revives a lot of memories. The aunt of Reverien now lives in what was the family house. She is now looking after the place.
Reverien still have some family left. Here, he is visiting his uncle and aunt as well as some other friends.
Janvier met Reverien when both were at the same red cross hosppital in 1994. She was 11. She had been thrown into a very pit. As a result, she is paralysed from neck and down. Still, she greeted us with a massive smile, make up and new nails. Still, life is not easy. She has been 20 years in bed and can not move at all. Not even to be take outside.
From her bed, Janvier can see the corridor in the house where she lives. The little girl ofte come to play. Janvier was 11 in 1994, this girl is younger, but one can only imagine how different her life would have been without her injuries.
Teta Angela helping to unbox a new bed for her paralysed friend Janviere.
Janviere looking at a picture of her friend Reverien.
I met up with Révérien Rurangwa at his place in Switzerland. His book 'My stolen Rwanda' describes his experiences during the genocide in Rwanda in 1994.
Near the Juru Park restaurant, on top of Kigali, can you see the hills surrounding the city. This is the spot, where the end of the war started...literarily.

It gets cold in the winter in Switzerland, although the landscape can resemble the mountainous Rwanda, the snow filled terrain is definately very different then what Reverien grew up with in Mugiuna, Rwanda.

This project has been part funded by 

#genocide #storytelling #humanrights #photojournalism #nikon #d810 #reportage #d850 #lifeaftergenocide #humanrights #postwar #rwanda #neveragain #africa #photography #kigali #reverienrurangwa #nikonpro #bisesero #webster #rwandagenocide #april7


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