Could you for­give the man who mur­dered your fam­ily?

TWENTY YEARS AF­TER THE GENO­CIDE IN RWANDA, REC­ON­CIL­I­A­TION STILL HAP­PENS ONE EN­COUNTER AT A TIME

Marie Claire (South Africa) - - CONTENTS - WORDS SU­SAN DOMI­NUS PHO­TO­GRAPHS PI­ETER HUGO

re­cently, pho­tog­ra­pher Pi­eter Hugo went to south­ern Rwanda, two decades af­ter nearly a mil­lion peo­ple were killed dur­ing the coun­try’s geno­cide, and cap­tured a se­ries of un­likely, al­most un­think­able tableaux. In one, a woman rests her hand on the shoul­der of the man who killed her fa­ther and broth­ers. In another, a woman poses with a ca­su­ally re­clin­ing man who looted her prop­erty and whose fa­ther helped mur­der her hus­band and chil­dren. In many of these pho­tos, there is lit­tle ev­i­dent warmth be­tween the pair,and yet there they are, to­gether. In each, the per­pe­tra­tor is a Hutu who was granted par­don by the Tutsi sur­vivor of his crime.

The peo­ple who agreed to be pho­tographed are part of a con­tin­u­ing na­tional ef­fort to­wards rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and worked closely with the As­so­ci­a­tion Modeste et In­no­cent (AMI), a non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion. In AMI’s pro­gramme, small groups of Hu­tus and Tut­sis are coun­selled over many months, cul­mi­nat­ing in the per­pe­tra­tor’s for­mal re­quest for for­give­ness. If for­give­ness is granted by the sur­vivor,the per­pe­tra­tor and his fam­ily and friends typ­i­cally bring a bas­ket of of­fer­ings, usu­ally food and sorghum or banana beer. The ac­cord is sealed with song and dance.

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