Rwanda Genocide Survivor Promotes Peace With 100 Day Walk Across The Country
By Danielle Dorsey
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the 100-day Rwandan genocide, a massacre that left an estimated 1,000,000 people dead, including about 70 percent of the Tutsi population. In the years since this devastation, Rwanda has struggled to recover and maintain peace. One genocide survivor seeks to challenge the East African nation’s image with a 100-day walking performance across the country.
Hyppolite Ntigurirwa is about halfway through his 932 mile (1,500 km) #BeThePeaceWalk. He hopes that in doing so he can act as an example of Rwandan resilience and help educate the rest of the world.
Now 32 years old, Hyppolite was just seven at the time of the genocide. He told BBC Focus on Africa that he still experiences nightmares from the trauma he witnessed.
“My dad was killed in front of me and fed to the dogs,” he said, adding that he was able to survive by hiding under corpses in a mass grave.
Hyppolite says forgiveness has helped him heal and move forward, telling the news channel, “Forgiving is a journey and you can only do it if you think about the generations to come. It’s the hardest path you can take but it’s the one that can bring what we want in the world.”
He and his family have gone to great lengths to create peace amongst Rwandans, even extending an olive branch to those who they know have committed crimes against their family and inviting them to join in ceremonies. He hopes that his 100-day peace walk can bring together more Rwandans in the same spirit.
Anyone is invited to join Hyppolite for as little or as long as they’d like. Throughout the journey he plans to share stories, participate in activities of hope and resilience including planting fruit trees in gardens, visiting inspirational heroes who rescued Tutsi during the genocide, listening to the testimonies of survivors, and supporting the innovations of the younger generations. Those who join him will have the opportunity to visit families to learn about their everyday lives.
So far, Hyppolite has been touched by the support he has received from his countrymen, telling BBC that, “People give us food, people give us shelter.”
Click here to learn more about Hyppolite and his #BeThePeaceWalk.