I Want To Remember My Father's Life, Not Just His Death

My father was killed in the 1994 Rwanda genocide against the Tutsi when I was only 5. It’s getting harder to remember what he was like when he was alive.

Alice Mongkongllite/ BuzzFeed

A year ago, a friend of mine, a journalist, asked me if I could write a piece about my father — what memories I have and that sort of thing. When I think about it now, I think maybe he wasn't asking me to write about my father, but really about his death.

Writing about his life is more important for me. Because I will remember his death forever. But being able to remind myself of his life is becoming harder and harder. Memories fade much faster than you expect; that's why writing this is urgent and necessary for me. Maybe that sounds a bit dramatic. Sometimes I think I get that from my father. He used to perform theater in his spare time.

My father was born in 1957. He was the eldest of seven children. He was raised by my grandmother, because his younger brother, Ngabo, was born shortly after he was and his parents couldn't take care of two small children. After Ngabo, his parents and my grandparents had Ida, Olive, Mudeli, Mutesi, and Cyemayire. From this family of nine, only my Aunt Ida survived. The rest were killed in the genocide exactly 21 years ago.

The genocide in Rwanda began on April 6, 1994. Within 100 days, nearly 1 million Tutsis along with moderate Hutus were killed by Hutu militias. No family in Rwanda was left untouched by the genocide. Families like mine were torn apart. I grew up without a father, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. The children of Hutu militias grow up without parents because theirs are in prison. And all that time the world watched idly and intervened not at all or not enough. Best known is the failed blue-helmet mission as well as France's involvement in the genocide.

Alice Mongkongllite/ BuzzFeed


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