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Two Families, Two Destinies: A Personal Perspective on the Rwandan Genocide of 1994

From April to July 1994 Rwanda suffered through a period of government-sanctioned mass murder which resulted in the deaths of nearlyone million Tutsi men, women and children. Most observers point to myriad factors which caused the slaughter including government corruption, longstanding ethnic antagonism, the legacy of colonialism, and competition for scarce farmland. Jean-Damascène Gasanabo, a citizen of Rwanda whose parents and four siblings were killed during the Genocide, offers another explanation, greed and jealousy. His account ofthe Rwandan Genocide, written expressly for BlackPast.org, appears below.

For centuries and even until today after the genocide, the three Rwandansocial groups have lived together, on same hills, dales, and flatlands.Hutus, Tutsis, and Twas live together in every part of the country of thousand hills. The relationship between the three groups was based on everyday life. It is simplistic and naive to argue that the relationshipbetween the people was perfect and that conflicts arose as a result of colonization only. No society exists that has avoided social conflicts among its population. From the pre-colonial period to the 1994 genocide,Rwanda has been characterized by internal conflicts. However, the nature of these conflicts was different in each epoch. Before the colonial period, the conflicts involved different clans such as the Bega and the Banyiginya in which both Hutus and Tutsis were represented. Those conflicts were related to the problems of land or power.

The 1994 genocide against Tutsis in Rwanda was the culmination of the hate of Hutus towards Tutsis. It poses two main questions: the first on the relationship between the two groups over centuries, and the second concerns the origins of hate that led to the genocide.

Non-Rwandans and many Rwandan citizens, ask how the relationship developed between Hutus and Tutsis and how that relationship encouraged the genocide that killed about one million Tutsis. I would argue that for centuries, the relationship between Hutus

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