Emmanuel Muhinda was a nine-year-old Tutsi schoolboy, living on his family’s cattle farm in 1994 when the killings began. He had an older brother and four sisters. His father was loving and his mother could do everything from keeping the house to helping manage the farm. Emmanuel liked school and caring for the calves on the farm.
When the killings started in his town on April 6, the family had to flee. They crowded into a church with many other Tutsi. They thought they’d be safe there. But they were attacked by Hutu gangs with clubs, machetes (long knives), bricks and stones. The Hutu killed women, men, children and even babies. Emmanuel survived by pretending to be dead. He heard and saw terrible things.
His mother was wounded. For several days Emmanuel and others kept her hidden, but one night her hiding place was discovered and she was killed. For the next six weeks Hutu gangs continued to hunt and kill Tutsi people. Some gang members were neighbors he’d known. Emmanuel and some other kids hid for weeks among the reeds in swamps. Hutu gangs would raid the swamp, but since the kids were young and small, the reeds hid them.
After a few weeks, the rebel army took over the area and Emmanuel was saved. But he was an orphan, without parents or siblings or a home. With the help of an aunt and another woman he got an education. But he was not happy in Rwanda. He chose to go to a university in Uganda, a nearby country.
He has terrible memories that are hard to live with, but he says, “We must work to prove that there was a reason for our survival.” His advice to young people is not to lose hope.
Click here for background information on the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.