Between April 6 and July 4, 1994, the genocide of Tutsis and massacres of moderate Hutus did about a million life in Rwanda.
While in the country, the massacres were committed on a large scale, at Ntarabana in northern Rwanda, Rugwiza Frodouald and Mukankundiye Anne-Marie hid and protected Tutsis risking their lives.
Shortly after the end of the genocide, Murekaze Anastasia, genocide survivor, was able to find the strength to forgive and reconcile with those who murdered her husband and children.
Mwilire site Mémorial - Juillet 2006
In Rwanda, as in most post-conflict societies a reconciliation policy was implemented hinged on the famous "Never again!"
For a very large number of people outside Rwanda and even for many Rwandans, humanism and reconciliation are the worst of the slogans used by the political class, the best noble and generous ideas yet abstract.
Yet during the genocide and massacres of 1994 and in the troubled period that followed, these "ordinaries" Rwandan by their actions, have personified these ideas in an extraordinary way.
The film gives voice to men and women who have made the difficult and courageous decisions to save lives during the massacres or to forgive and start a new life of harmony and peace.
As much these choices were at the time extremely dangerous (many of them lost their lives), both in the period that followed and today this independent spirit, this belief in humanity is source of marginalization.
Tournage à Ntarabana - Juillet 2015
We are absolutely convinced that those Rwandans who have demonstrated exceptional courage, integrity and impartiality can and should be positives examples and referents within a framework of reconciliation and strengthening democratic principles.
They are entitled to a symbolic recognition and episodically, the subject is almost taboo. The potential exemplary of the Righteous remains largely underexploited especially considering the socio-political context of certain countries (Côte d'Ivoire, Central African Republic, Burundi, South Sudan ...)
The Righteous are the living example that a choice was and is possible. They tell us that it was and it still a question of individual responsibility.
Repérages - Avril 2015
Valuing the actions of the Righteous, giving international resonance to their word is also a way to fight against genocide and hatred focusing on:
1) the strength of humanistic ideas that guided them;
2) the individuality of their choice invalid permanently theses theories of collective responsibility which exempt the perpetrators of their individual responsibility.
Tournage à Ntarabana - Juillet 2015
Ntarabana is a continuation of the work that I'm developping in Rwanda since 1998, which started with the feature documentary We Aren't Dead Anymore!
I already mentioned the genocide and its consequences in Asientos https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oNU2l1stXjU shot in 1994 and released in 1995. It was a film about memory and mourning.
We Aren't Dead Anymore! stood resolutely in the post-genocide period. We were four years after the genocide and life had resumed, the country and its people had begun the long process of reconstruction.
Témoignage d'un rescapé - Rwamagana 2002
From 2002 to 2004 I designed and coordinated the project EPOH (the Future) whose overall objective was firstly support the process of national reconciliation in Rwanda, on the other hand participate in the restoration of the culture of peace and respect for human rights.
More than 100 testimonies of genocide survivors, perpetrators and their families were filmed to form an audio-visual documentary archive on the 1994 genocide. Some of the testimonies were used to raising awareness and sensitize communities across the country to unity and reconciliation.
Séance de sensibilisation à Kinyinya en 2003
In 2006, while I was living and working in the country for the last six years, I produced the documentary Icyizere (hope) on the project of the same name.
The subject of the film was the story of the resistant during the 1994 genocide (survivors and Righteous-resistant). It was yet again to address issues related to genocide from a different angle: to suggest a positive vision of the future through examples extracted from the history of resistance to the 1994 genocide.
Ntarabana is therefore the last part of this triptych on Rwanda post 1994:
1998 : We Aren't Dead Anymore!
2006 : Icyizere (hope);
2014 : Ntarabana.
Monument National de la Résistance
RUGWIZA Froduald, 49 year old. Ntarabana Righteous.
«The militiamen suspected me and said: Be aware that you too are targeted because of those Tutsis that you hide. We will take care of you.»
Before the genocide, Froduald was a member of the Presidential Guard, but was expelled from the army in 1994 on suspicion of being a spy of the RPF (the rebellion).
His return in the village coincides with the start of the genocide. He is aware of lists of people to be killed. These lists included the names of some of his friends. He will pick them and hide them home for a week.
Later, after leading his friends in a safe place while the war raged, he fled to Congo. On the road to exile, he met Anastasia and some members of her family. Twice, his intervention will save their life.
MUREKAZE Anastasia, 55 year old. Genocide survivor.
"People no longer avoid each other. Before we feared the worst. The man who destroyed my house avoided passing by here on his release from prison because of what he did. Finally he denounced himself via an intermediary. He begged me to forgive him ... I reduced its debt by half, he rebuild the roof and left in peace. It was the end of fear."
Anastasia has lost almost her entire family during the 1994 genocide including her husband and eldest son. As she fled to the Congo with the rest of her family, they were twice saved from death by Froduald.
After the genocide, on her return from exile, she start teaching again.
She forgave those who killed her family, destroyed her house and looted her property including Gaspard one of her son's murderers.
MUKANKUNDIYE Anne-Marie, 73 year old. Ntarabana Righteous.
"Now some praise me and others say: " What did you do so important? What reward have you got?" But I did it because I believe it was the right thing to do."
During the genocide, Anne-Marie and her husband hide their neighbors Marcianne, her daughter Agatha whose husband Claver has been killed and her little girl of 5 years.
While the threat became greater because the militiamen are searching houses looking for the family survivor, Agatha and Marcianne must leave the hiding place to seek refuge elsewhere. Since it is difficult to run with the child, Anne-Marie proposes to stay with the little girl.
She swears that no one will harm her unless they kill her own children too.
On the arrival of soldiers seeking survivors of the family, Anne-Marie claims that the girl was her niece from Kigali. The soldiers leave, threatening her of death if she had lied to them.
Marcianne, Agatha and the little girl have all survived.
MUKANYANGEZI Marcianne, 72 year old. Genocide survivor.
"Nevertheless there were good people among them who sought where we spent the night and bring us food. We would not have survived without these people with a big heart."
During the genocide, Marcianne is hidden by her neighbors (Anne-Marie and Fidel) along with her daughter Agatha and her 5 year old granddaughter.
She lost 8 children and many family members including her son André and her son-in-law Claver killed alongside Gatsinzi, Anastasia's husband.
NKUNDIYE Gaspard, 39 year old. Former militiaman.
"I am responsible for having lent a hand to the killers.
I was always ready to help them kill the Tutsis instead of fighting them."
Gaspard was Anastasia student at primary school. She also took care of him in particular through financial assistance during his childhood.
In 1994, during the genocide he is 17 years old. Despite opposition from his parents, he joined the militia and participated in the killings. It is part of the group that killed the Anastasia' son.
Arrested in November 1994, he spent 13 years in prison. On its release, he asked and obtained pardon from those whom he had harmed including Anastasia who has reconciled with him.
Tournage à Ntarabana - Juillet 2015