Hyppolite Ntigurirwa, a Rwandan genocide survivor set to tour all 30 of the country’s provinces through a 1500km “peace walk”, marking 25 years since the 100-day genocide of 1994. He is now halfway into the 100 day walk.
He says he was only seven-years-old at the time of the genocide.
and now at 32 years old, the trauma of the past still gives him nightmares.
“My dad was killed in front of me and fed to the dogs,” he said adding that he was able to survive by hiding under corpses in a mass grave.
While touring Rwanda, Ntigurirwa admits that he has been struck by the kindness of the people. He adds that he was perhaps most touched by the support of a young girl who wanted to join the walk and even offered to carry his bags but found they were too heavy.
“People give us food, people give us shelter,” he said.
Today, Hyppolite’s family has gone to great efforts to “invite these people who we knew who killed my relatives and my cousins”.
“They now come in our ceremonies and they enjoy what we enjoy,” Ntigurirwa noted.
He mentioned that forgiving is a journey and one can only do it if they think about the generations to come: “It’s the hardest path you can take but it’s the one that can bring what we want in the world.”
On 7th April, Rwanda commemorated the 25th anniversary of a genocide that tore the it apart and left close to a million people dead.
Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame and several other heads of state laid wreaths and attended the lighting of the remembrance flame at the Kigali Genocide Memorial.
“Fear and anger have been replaced by the energy and purpose that drives us forward – young and old,Nothing has the power to turn Rwandans against each other, ever again. This history will not repeat. That is our firm commitment,” he said during the commemoration ceremony in Kigali.
Ntigurirwa hopes his 100-day walk can bring together other Rwandans in the same spirit and welcomes anyone to join him.