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3 Introduction In April 2000 I inter­ viewed Do­ na­ tia, a gen­ o­ cide sur­ vi­ vor, about her work with a net­ work of rural ­ women’s ­ groups. As an un­ mar­ ried Tutsi, she had faced sev­ eral har­ row­ ing ­ months hid­ ing from kill­ ing ­ squads dur­ ing the gen­ o­ cide. She sur­ vived ­ thanks to a net­ work of ­ friends who hid her in their homes. Dur­ ing the inter­ view she re­ counted the anger and bit­ ter­ ness she felt in the ­ months fol­ low­ ing the gen­ o­ cide: I ­ wasn’t ­ really alive any­ more; I was con­ sumed with hate. I felt like God had re­ nounced us. How else could such awful ­ things have hap­ pened? My en­ tire fam­ ily was dead. I was the only one who sur­ vived. I ­ didn’t trust any­ one, not even those who ­ helped save me.­ Father Félicien saw me in my suf­fer­ ing. He came to me and lis­ tened to me. We ­ prayed to­ gether. Lit­ tle by lit­ tle he ­ helped me see out­ side of my­ self, my hate. I began to heal. Even­ tu­ ally, he sug­ gested that I work with the wid­ ows in Mu­ sozi. Even ­ though I ­ didn’t want to, I ­ agreed. 4 Introduction Work­ ing with the wid­ ows ­ helped. Lis­ ten­ ing to their sto­ ries. They had lost their en­ tire fam­ i­ lies, their homes, their live­ stock, their live­ li­ hoods; but they were even more mis­ er­ able than I. They were farm­ ers, un­ ed­ u­ cated, and many of them had chil­ dren to feed. But it’s im­ pos­ sible to farm alone. (Field notes, April 2000)­ Donatia’s story high­ lights the ques­ tion at the heart of this book: How do sur­ vi­ vors re­ build their lives in the after­ math of gen­ o­ cide? This pro­ ject grew out of a cu­ ri­ os­ ity about the ways non­ com­ bat­ ants cope with war­ fare and vi­ o­ lent po­ lit­ i­ cal con­ flict and how their ex­ pe­ ri­ ences of vi­ o­ lence shape them. Under­ stand­ ing the strat­ e­ gies sur­ vi­ vors de­ ploy and the cul­ tu­ rally ap­ pro­ pri­ ate cop­ ing mech­ a­ nisms they use to go on with their lives after the un­ imag­ in­ able has hap­ pened can con­ trib­ ute to the crea­ tion of post­ con­ flict inter­ ven­ tions in­ war-torn so­ ci­ eties. This book is an eth­ nog­ ra­ phy of sur­ vi­ val about women in the after­ math of the 1994 Rwan­ dan gen­ o­ cide. ­ Between April 6 and July 4, 1994, ap­ prox­ i­ mately 800,000 Rwan­ dans lost their lives in a gen­ o­ cide ­ planned and per­ pe­ trated by state au­ thor­ ities.1­ Roughly ­ three-quarters of the Tutsi pop­ u­ la­ tion in the coun­ try died along with thou­ sands of Hutu who op­ posed the kill­ ings, mak­ ing it the swift­ est gen­ o­ cide in his­ tory (Des ­ Forges 1999). On the eve­ ning of April 6, 1994, un­ known as­ sai­ lants shot down Pres­ i­ dent Ju­ vé­ nal­ Habyarimana’s plane as it pre­ pared to land at the inter­ na­ tional air­ port on the out­ skirts of Ki­ gali as he was re­ turn­ ing from peace talks in Aru­ sha, Tan­ za­ nia. He died in the crash along with mem­ bers of his inner cir­ cle of ad­ vis­ ors and the pres­ i­ dent of Bu­ rundi, Cy­ prien Ntar­ ya­ mira. In the ­ months that fol­ lowed, Inter­ ahamwe mi­ li­ tia­ men, ­ Forces ar­ mées rwan­ daises (FAR) sol­ diers, po­ lice­ men, govern­ ment au­ thor­ ities, and ci­ vil­ ians re­ cruited to kill­ ing­ squads cor­ doned off the coun­ try to ­ search for and kill ib­ yitso (ac­ com­ plices), in­ yenzi (cock­ roaches), and “en­ e­ mies of ­ Rwanda.” While an­ nounce­ ments on the ­ government-controlled Radio ­ Rwanda or the ex­ tre­ mist ­ hate-radio ­ Radiot élévision des mille col­ lines (RTLM) and com­ mands given by local govern­ ment of­fi­ cials used this coded lan­ guage, the pop­ u­ la­ tion under­ stood that all Tutsi—young or old...


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