Emmanuel Byiringiro is an Agrostudies student from Rwanda. He is a student in the class of 2016-17 and is currently interning on a dairy farm in Kfar Hasidim not far from Haifa.
I asked to speak to him so I could receive a more personal perspective and understand what happened there only 23 years ago, in the spring of 1994, and he agreed.
April 7th, 1994 – the killings began in Rwanda. Emmanuel and his family resided in a Southern province. He lived with his family, his parents, older and younger siblings. He was about six years old.
“It was terrible to see people living in the same community, who took to killing the Tutsi. I think it was very terrible. It was because of a bad leadership that taught the community that they were different. The leadership taught the community that the Tutsi were not Rwandan and therefore they must be ‘cleared’. I saw Hutu killing Tutsi with a machete. I think that in 100 days more than 1 million Tutsi were killed.
Everyone looked for a safe place. Everyone moved. We took a few things and went without knowing where we were going. When someone wants to kill you, you move without thinking about your things. You take what you can hold.
We moved every day and in the night we stayed where we were.”
I asked him how they made sure they had something to eat, Emmanuel answered very simply, “well, you know, sometimes you don’t”.
Not all families could stay together. There were thousands, maybe millions of displaced Rwandans and most people lost their families in the chaos and travelled alone. Emanuel was with his father.
His mother, Rachel Mukamurenzi, was killed earlier. He also lost an older brother.
Even so, his message is one of optimism and courage. He is here, in Israel, working and studying to make a better future for himself, his community and his country. He is proud of the progress Rwanda has made and how different it is now.
“The good news is that today all of Rwanda is the same. We work together. There are no more Hutu or Tutsi, we are all Rwandan. Our theme is ‘Remember the Genocide against the Tutsi – Fight Genocide Ideology – Build on Our Progress’ and that is what we are doing.”