Encounters with conflict and peace

In that atmosphere...

what was it like to be an ordinary Tutsi in the villages of Rwanda?
What did they think of the jokes and threats from the local troublemakers?

“That bunch was famous on the hill for their carousing and tomfoolery. Those fellows did not seem so bad... But when they had been drinking, they took sport in spreading misunderstandings and wicked words from cabaret to cabaret.
They used to scoff at the Tutsis and promise them serious retaliation, although they never laid hands on them... Among ourselves, we felt that gang was growing dangersome.” (Clementine, survivor)

Men at gacaca
INNOCENT: “Those folks were hardworking, experienced farmers who could be very nice and very helpful. Still, they gradually absorbed the anti-Tutsi frustration and jealousy their parents had brought with them...

During the killings of 1992, they suddenly fired themselves up against the Tutsis and turned very threatening. Those brawls ended without consequence in the neighbourhood, thanks to the wisdom of the municipal judge.

Afterwards we sensed that cruelty had hooked them and could make them go wrong at any time... Yet never did we think they might one day kill at such a great pace.”

From A time for machetes. The killers speak by Jean Hatzfeld

Manipulating the population

But even in the rural areas, some villagers understood that they were being manipulated: exploited by educated men who were fully aware of the violence they were igniting.
INNOCENT: “Genocide is not really a matter of poverty or lack of education… In 1959 the Hutus relentlessly robbed, killed, and drove away Tutsis, but they never for a single day imagined exterminating them. It is the intellectuals who emancipated them, by planting the idea of genocide in their heads and sweeping away their hesitations.”

From A time for machetes. The killers speak by Jean Hatzfeld

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