Faded photographs hang from wires inside the Kigali Genocide Memorial (@kigali_memorial) in Rwanda. They display the awkward poses of men and women of modest means who perhaps possessed only this one image of themselves, taken years before their murders. Children are pictured with a favorite sport, favorite drinks (“milk and tropical Fanta”), the name of a best friend. Then come the skulls, many with the marks of machetes. The Kigali Genocide Memorial describes the events leading to April 7, 1994, when extremists from the Hutu ethnic majority sought to exterminate an entire minority group, the Tutsi. During a hundred days, they killed an estimated 800,000 people, mostly Tutsi but including Hutu moderates too. Ordinary citizens targeted neighbors, even relatives (intermarriage was not uncommon). Hutu and Tutsi shared a language, a culture, and strong Christian belief in most cases. Even when Tutsi sought refuge in churches, they were massacred; certain priests and nuns took part. After three months, a rebel force led by Tutsi exiles ousted the regime, halted the genocide, and took power.
I photographed this moving story of hope and resilience for AFAR Magazine. It's on newsstands now in the July/August 2018 issue and explores Rwanda's efforts to renew and reestablish itself in the decades following the 1994 genocide or you can read online at bit.ly/AfarRwanda
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