Daily Maverick (Johannesburg)

Rwanda: Twenty Years On - the Enduring Paradox of Rwanda

analysis

7 April 1994 marks the start of the Rwandan genocide. Over a period of just 100 days, more than 800,000 Rwandans were slaughtered by their compatriots. Twenty years later, Rwanda remembers the killings, and ponders its future.

On this date, twenty years ago, the Rwandan Hutu militia were taking to the streets to murder, rape and torture their fellow Rwandans.

7 April is the official the beginning of what would become known to the world as the Rwandan genocide, where mass murders resulted in an estimated 800,000 deaths in 100 days, mainly carried out by Hutus against Tutsis.

I spent a month writing for a Rwandan government newspaper last December. This was a strange place to be in a country where media freedom is increasingly considered a rarity.

I learnt about both the tumultuous history of the country, as well as the contentious politics that have both aided and stifled the country's development.

Twenty days before South Africans would line the streets to vote in the country's first democratic elections, the streets of Rwanda were being lined with bodies. American journalist Philip Gourevitch wrote about the "selling of cabbages", which was the term used for the selling...

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