I didn’t bury my brother, I owe him so much

12 april 2017

 I lost many people during the 1994 genocide. It was a heavy burden for me and what wounded me considerably is that I did not succeed to find and bury one of my brothers who had been killed. Though I was aware of his death, I wanted to see his body and bury him out of respect for him and in order to give value to him. I always felt that I owed him something. That increased my grief for the loss. I tried to ask everywhere where he was killed but in vain.


When Gacaca started, I attended most of the Gacaca meetings in order to find out if there was anyone who could say something about the killers’ of my brother or where his body could be. But Gacaca ended without any trace of the body. There were people who confessed but they did not say where my brother’s body was thrown. After Gacaca I was no longer looking for the killer but only for the body so that I could bury it. I lived in isolation, because, as a Tutsi married in a Hutu family, I was neither accepted in my own family nor in my family-in-law.


When I was invited by a sociotherapist, a few days prior to the commemoration period, I immediately accepted the invitation because I thought that the group could be my refuge in those bad days. During the second session of the phase of safety, I opened up and shared my grief with the group. I said that I could not feel safe until I bury my brother. When I was sharing my story, group members felt concerned. One participant promised to help through approaching people who had killed and later confessed. She was their neighbor. Finally, together with the village leader, she asked people who had gathered for the commemoration about my brother’s body. That resulted in the information I needed. After collecting all details, the participant shared them with me during the following socio-session. We then started to search for the body, which was finally found. The body was buried last year (2014), which gave me back some feeling of happiness. My anger towards family members and neighbors decreased and I started approaching them. I really feel relieved now because I know the full truth and paid respect to my brother. 


Story by 

Diogene Karangwa Sustainability and Evaluation Officer-Southern Province