Friday, April 17, 2009

A childhood spent surviving genocide

Eric Karita gives us an outstanding first person account of the Rwandan genocide from the 1990's. Karita spent a good portion of his childhood on the run and hiding from Hutus who would kill him just because he was Tutsi. Karita is now getting an education in the US.

The student newspaper at the University Karita attends asked for the story of his experience. From the Undercurrent from Buena Vista UIniversity in Iowa, is an excerpt from Karita's story.

It all started on April 6, 1994. Over the next hundred days that followed, many people lost their lives. It was a war in which two ethnic groups began fighting for ultimate power. Rwanda's genocide was a situation of two tribes: Tutsi and Hutu, where the Hutu began killing the Tutsi. Rwanda has experienced what other countries have never experienced. Rwanda's genocide has come to define the country.

Living through a transition massacre to a free market society, I have personally experienced poverty and national wars that most Americans could never dream about in their worst nightmares. Living through war and poverty has made me find my true existence; they have integrated my life and personality. In 1994 after the crash of the plane of former president of Rwanda, Habyarimana, the Hutus started slaughtering the Tutsis using machetes, axes, guns, and clubs. I was in the village with my grandma. Many Tutsis started packing their stuff so that they could find a safe place and became survivors. Friends, relatives, and families were turning against each other because they were from different ethnic groups. Those who were the Hutus had no mercy on the Tutsis. It did not matter whether you were friends or relatives or family you were still going to be killed. My eyes were full of terrors. I would hear people screaming and gunshots. Many of the Tutsis were begging for forgiveness from the Hutus not to kill them, but the Hutus had no forgiveness. The Hutus would just shoot them or chop them like they were chopping meat not human beings. I have seen so many dead bodies. I had spent many days running away from the Hutus and without having shelter to rest my head nor even food and water to drink. I would eat whatever I would get and drink whatever I could find to drink. I owned many goats and I depended on them. Unfortunately, one day I had to leave them behind.

Eventually, my grandma and I managed to cross the border of Rwanda into Tanzania. We became refugees in Tanzania and life was a struggle there. The Office of the United Nations Commission for Refugees could not afford to feed all of the people. However, I still felt relief because I could not hear gunshots anymore.

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