This story tells how the relationship between two distant relatives, Marianne and Marc, was destroyed during the genocide, and how it was repaired through sociotherapy. The two grew up together as brother and sister. During the genocide, Marianne was hunted and her siblings were killed. She went to Marc for help, but was surprised to find him among the perpetrators. When the two met in sociotherapy, they managed to share their past and to forgive each other. Nowadays, they live as relatives again.
I was 28 years old when the genocide started. Most of our community members were scared and fled to the top of the hill, including my family and Marc’s family. From there, we could observe what was happening and we could identify the places where we could find refuge. Marc’s family and mine stayed together, but things changed when local leaders announced that any Hutu associated with Tutsis would be killed too. It was Marc amongst others who turned against my family. Some Hutu colleagues of my younger brother tried to save my brother by disguising him and helping him escape. Marc informed the Interahamwe that people on the hill were helping Tutsis escape. Marc was also among a group of perpetrators that inquired about the hideouts of Tutsi women, as they sought to rape and kill them. A Hutu lady helped me escape to another hill, where I was reunited with my sister. Together we left to hide in the neighborhood of Marc’s family, and we begged for food there. As my sister was seriously injured, I left her here and went to Bisesero hill alone. One day, perpetrators, including Marc, surrounded us. They started killing people, while victims defended themselves with machetes and stones. One of the victims injured Marc; he still has a scar of a machete on his head.
After the genocide, Marc went into exile in Congo. I was informed that he was the only person who knew where my sister was buried, as he had killed her himself. Upon his return, Marc initially denied that he had killed her and refused to show us the place where she was buried. With the effort of local leaders however, he admitted his wrongdoings and agreed to reveal where she was buried. After that, he was taken to prison. In the Gacaca courts, Marc acknowledged his responsibility for the deaths of my relatives, and he apologized. I forgave him. Yet, I think he still did not trust me or fellow community members. He fled his home every time someone who had taken refuge on the Bisesero hill in 1994 appeared in the Gacaca courts. I also sensed that his wife and children were becoming increasingly angry with me. Apparently he had told them I planned to take revenge for my sister’s death. Eventually, Marc fled our village. Sometimes he came back to the village and spent a night in his house, which was close to mine. I got scared and started to spend nights away from my home. Still, I used to send people to tell him that I had changed, and that I did not hold any grudge against him. I asked his wife to make him come back home. Eventually, Marc accepted to return.
When we were invited to participate in sociotherapy, it offered an opportunity for us to openly talk to one another about our past, and to apologize to one another. Marc explained to me what had happened; that he was hiding himself because he never trusted me. Today we are living as relatives and friends again. We share drinks and food, and, as I am a divorced lady, Marc promised to help me whenever I need it. He was even among the people who came to support me during the commemoration week. His wife and children frequently come to visit me too.
My father once explained to me that my grandmother got married to Muhima, who is also Marianne’s grandfather. Still he emphasized that, although Marianne and I grew up in the family lineage of Muhima, we were not directly related. Marianne’s family was Tutsi, whereas we were Hutu.
During the genocide, one of Marianne’s sisters came to my house. She was injured and could barely eat; she was only taking some porridge. She requested to keep her close to my house. I promised to hide her. However, after four days one of the killers came to my house and asked me where the girl was. I exposed her to him, whereupon he killed her. After that, I went into exile in Congo. When I returned to Rwanda, I went to see Marianne. She was furious that I had killed her sister. After I served my sentence of six years and three months in prison, I was released and spent three years with my family. Then the Gacaca courts started. I sensed there was something wrong between me and Marianne. In the line of our culture, I prepared banana bear and went to her home to apologize. I asked her for a written note of forgiveness, like others were doing. Yet, she refused to give it to me. A little later, someone told me Marianne had paid someone to kill me. Thinking about her refusal to forgive me, I made the decision to flee to the Eastern Province, where I stayed for five years.
At times, I came back to spend a week with my family. Initially, I was always prepared to defend myself against Marianne, and to kill her if necessary. However, my wife told me that Marianne had started visiting my family. Also, she had testified in public that she did not hold any grudge against me. I believed this information and decided to come back permanently. My wife asked me to go and greet Marianne, which I did. Marianne gave me a banana to eat. Later she gave me some paid work. However, we did not speak to each other. I kept wondering what she plotted against me.
We were both invited in sociotherapy. Here, we shared what had happened and how this had affected both of us and our families. I apologized to Marianne and she forgave me. Nowadays, we are living as friends again. I am the one who helps her when she prepares banana beer (which traditionally is a man’s job) and when she is doing something that requires a lot of physical power. I can also go into her house and take banana beer. I consider her to be my only sister, as my biological sister has become my enemy. The latter fought with me about family property. She was also one of the persons that send wrong information about me to Marianne. She thought that in this way I would die in prison. I appreciate sociotherapy and thank those who initiated it.