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USF Libraries Exhibits

The Extermination of an Entire Group

Alexandre Kimenyi, Professor, California State University, Sacramento

You are asking, of course, the reason why I survived. It was because I was here in the United States. But I’m lucky, because I have my family here: I have my wife here, I have my children, my children here. So, we are lucky. We survived. But there are many, many—I mean, thousands, thousands of families which were all wiped out completely. So when you talk about my situation, of course, there are different degrees, because as I said, even though I suffered and I lost my entire family—my parents, my brothers, my sisters, my aunts, my cousins, and so on; but as I told you, I’m lucky because I was able to survive. But there are many, many families where there’s no single individual that has survived. So, this is what genocide is, that people (inaudible). So genocide means indeed total extermination of an entire group. When I was here, I was hoping that maybe some of my relatives might have been able to hide or able to flee the country. But I was able to go after the genocide. It was my first actual trip to Rwanda after many, many years, because previously I was unable to go because I was a Tutsi. Tutsis who were outside were not allowed to back to the country. So when I left there, because I was born there, I left the country a grownup man, because I had just finished college, to pursue my graduate studies in the United States. So,I knew the entire Rwandan landscape. So when I was there, I traveled all over the country, and I found out that indeed, at least from what I know, at least 95 percent of the Tutsis inside the country were killed. It wasn’t very easy, of course, to tell how many Tutsis were killed, because wherever you went you could see that the houses had been also destroyed. So what the killers did was not only to kill the people, but also they killed their properties, their houses. So, they had to make sure there’s no trace of where the Tutsis used to be.