Encounters with conflict and peace

Each to his own personality

Rwandan old man
"Some hunted like grazing goats, others like wild beasts. Some hunted slowly because they were afraid, some because they were lazy.

Some struck slowly from wickedness, some struck quickly so as to finish up and go home early to do something else. It was each to his own technique and personality.

Me, because I was older, I was excused from trudging around the marshes. My duty was to patrol in stealth through the surrounding fields. I chose the ancestral method, with bow and arrows, to skewer a few Tutsis passing through. As an old-timer, I had known such watchful hunting since my childhood."   (Ignace)

Working with the tools you have

"The fumblers were followed as a precaution, because of possible incompetence. The interahamwe gave them compliments or reprimands. Sometimes, if they wanted to be strict, the penalty was to finish off the wounded person, whatever it took. The culprit had to keep tackling the job to the end. The worst thing was being forced to do this in front of your own colleagues.

We were only a few, at the very start. That didn’t last long, thanks to our familiarity with the machete in the fields. It’s only natural. If you and me are given a ballpoint pen, you will prove more at ease with writing work than me, no jealousy on my part. For us, the machete was what we knew how to use and sharpen. Also, for the authorities, it was less expensive than guns. Therefore we learned to do the job with the basic instrument we had."    (Fulgence)

Tools of killing - Gisozi

Choir leader, killing boss

Ntaram church detail
The Saturday after the plane crash was the usual choir rehearsal day at the church. We sang hymns in good feeling with our Tutsi compatriots, our voices still blending in chorus.

On Sunday morning we returned for mass; they did not arrive. They had already fled into the bush in fear of reprisals, driving their goats and cows before them. That disappointed us greatly, especially on a Sunday. Anger hustled us outside the church door.

We left the Lord and our prayers inside to rush home. We changed from our Sunday best into our workaday clothes, we grabbed clubs and machetes, we went straight off to killing.

In the marshes, I was appointed killing boss because I gave orders intensely. Same thing in the Congolese camps. In prison I was appointed charismatic leader because I sang intensely. I enjoyed the alleluias. I gladly felt rocked by those joyous verses. I was steadfast in my love of God."   

Quotes on this page from A time for machetes. The killers speak by Jean Hatzfeld. Images by Dave Fullerton

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