Telling Rwanda’s genocide story
1 months ago, 20 Apr 17:15
As April comes to an end and Rwandans enter the final week of the official month of mourning and commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, Eric Kabera, the unofficial national archivist and keeper of the genocide record through film, spoke with The EastAfrican on his life and journey as a filmmaker, and how his chosen profession is intertwined with Rwanda’s dark history.
Kabera often questions his obsession with the 1994 genocide, considering the trauma, pain, despair, suffering and never ending remorse as to why others died and he lived.
The answer he says is, “my pain, trauma and suffering is nothing compared with that of those who lived through the killings.
He says he does it for the orphans, widow, widowers and all those who lost family members, some even entire families. Then there are the survivors, with physical and psychological scars, lost limbs, homeless, and suffering survivor’s guilt and want to know why he bothers to tell their painful stories.
For this, he says; “because I am Rwandan.
His early life
Growing up in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kabera did not at first understand why there was so much hate against the Tutsi. He lived the hate every day from childhood.
Being of a lighter skin tone than most children his age, he was taunted by being called a “Kazungu,” (a small white person).
As far as he can now recall, his family lived in one of the most difficult places to live in, then under the regime of Mobutu Sese Seko. As Tutsi settler community, they were were prosecuted and discriminated against but were determined to make DR Congo their home.
Rwanda was openly hostile and had been since 1959 when his father decided to seek refuge in Congo.
The secret service of the Habyarimana regime in Rwanda had infiltrated the Congo, spreading propaganda to the Congolese that the Tutsi living among them were as sly as snakes, not to be trusted and that they were in Congo to take over their businesses and land.
The hate from the Congolese was real, but they had to cohabit with the Tutsi who against all odds, became successful, like Pheneas Kabera, Eric’s father.
Kabera senior, with other Tutsis who were once his pupils in Rwanda such as Buzana, the father of Majyambere in Gitarama and Rubangura who became his business colleagues, were well known successful businessmen in the city of Goma.
Kabera senior was a general tradesman who sold paraffin, beer, salt, cars and everything in between. He was charismatic, liked by many and trained many into the trade.
He was well known in Goma where he lived in one big house with his more than 20 children. Kabera senior had been a teacher in Murama-Kubuhanda, where he grew up with the famous Pastor Ezra Mpyisi.
Eric is currently working on a documentary film with co-director Martin Widerberg, on his own journey as a filmmaker but it is turning out to be more about the life and times of his father, at least according to Widerberg. ...
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