NARCISSE

Before the genocide, I was a child growing up at home with my parents like any other child. When I was 7 years old, the 1994 genocide against Tutsi erupted and I lost many of my relatives but what hurt me most was my mother’s death. After the genocide, I got to know the person who killed my mother. Evariste was our neighbor and my father was a God-father to his elder brother. We were like brothers, but during the genocide, he killed my mother, with his own hands using a club. He was 24 years old by then. He was imprisoned for his crimes, but when he was released I could not bear it. I started devising a plan to kill him and his entire family. Oh! How that took me much thinking and energy! I had to wipe out his entire family, I blamed all the problems I had on him. I was not able to finish my primary education however much my elder brothers tried, and that also was blamed on Evariste.

I enrolled in the army with the hope to get a gun and carry out my plan. I ended up becoming a local defense guard which simplified the job for me. One day I almost got him, but he was alone and not with his family as I had hoped. Oh, no! That saved him that day.

I finally heard about Jesus and got saved, the local defense job ended and I had to hand in my gun without harming anybody; but I still harbored hatred, anger and a vengeful spirit towards Evariste. I would never cross the road with him on the street. Whenever we would be walking oppositely on the street and we are about to meet, I would wind around and turn my back toward him. He would become alert and see me and pass the other way, either in the bush or wherever I didn’t care. When I turned back, he would be gone - disappeared.

In 2017 we were both invited to the Empower workshop by CARSA organization. I could not believe that he was in the same room with me. The lessons helped me a lot, the healing journey started, I was able to see the bigger picture. On the third day, we shook hands for the very first time since 1994. That was the beginning of our reconciliation journey.

After the workshop, we continued meeting in a Reconciliation Cell group in our area. One afternoon Evariste came to my house, he gave me the full story of my mother’s death and asked for forgiveness afresh. I felt light, relieved and more healed, my heart was full of forgiveness for him that I stood and gave him a hug. I told him “I forgive you today more than I have done before, thank you for telling me the truth.” It is bad to lose a loved one, but it helps a lot to know how he/she died, which played a big part in my healing.

Later CARSA gave us a Cow for Peace to share and it was amazing. Even our families became friends because we had to meet over that cow. I thank God for healing me and the reconciliation he started in us.

EVARISTE

During the genocide, I was very young. I was the youngest of the mob I was part of. When we came to Narcisse’s house, the mob chose me to kill his mother, they even promised me a cow if I did. His father was the godfather of my brother, we had a good relationship before. His parents had even given a cow to my parents. I took a club and killed her. I even went to my parents and asked for their cow as my reward for what I did. I was not courageous enough to kill the baby sister of Narcisse who was with her though and left her on her mother.

After the genocide, I tried to hide in the city of Kigali, mixing myself with the crowd especially so that my face would not be identified with the killers. I could be taken as a Tutsi. But finally someone from my area identified me and I was imprisoned. After jail, it was hard to live in this area close to Narcisse. I tried to ask for forgiveness but I always lived in fear that he might take revenge on me one day.

When we were invited for training by CARSA, I could not believe that we were in the same room. Afterward, I asked for forgiveness and he said that he forgave me, but I knew that I will not be free enough before I tell him the whole story of how his mother died. Luckily he accepted my request. We met at his house; I was worried that he will be re-traumatized and so I asked him, “are you sure you will be ok? Will you bear hearing everything?” He assured me that he was strong enough. I told him everything of how I killed his mother and asked him “you forgave me before you knew how I killed your mother, would you please accept to forgive me after hearing all the bad I did?” He stood up and gave me a hug and told me “I forgive you today more than I forgave you before, thank you for telling me the truth.” I could see the relief on his face and I knew he was sincere. Since then our relationship is no longer the same, it is much better. Our families are friends, and he trusts me than anybody else. He is my best friend and my advisor in everything.