- Rwanda Since the 1994 Genocide
Rwanda Since the 1994 Genocide


Networks and Connections

By stephanie on February 11, 2013

In reading more of Marie Umutesi’s ordeal during the Rwandan genocide this week, it became much clearer to me that the 1994 genocide was not caused my an innate ethnic hate within the society. While we know this to be true despite the government literature that exploits this existing view point, it became more and more obvious that social stratifications, including regional, education, network, and class, were a lot more of a driving force that determined who killed who and the reasons for these acts as I read on. While it is hard to imagine what drove people to kill their own neighbors, Umutesi’s account explains how that may be possible. In the chapter “Increasing Violence,” she describes the lack of compassion a young hairdresser has for a group of Northern refugees because of their political and regional differences. Urban dwellers disbelieved their stories of killings committed by the rebels and dismissed them as propaganda. This lack of compassion was also affected by government propaganda. The most important determinant for Umutesi’s survival seemed to be her connections her network of NGO workers.


After having her office raided by SCR soldiers, Umutesi was able to get information on the soldiers’ motives and plans for her because of one of her personal connections. Her cousin’s husband was able to call and inform her that they suspected she knew the RPF’s plan and wanted to have her arrested. Umutesi also had a policeman in her network, who during the raids in 1994, was able to mention her family to the chief of security and ensure that she would not be bothered for a short period of time. This is one of many examples where she was able to stay alive as a result of her connections.

1 Comment

  • Professor Thomson said:

    Thoughtful post, Stephanie. One question, how much did Umutesi’s personal resilience and ability to negotiate with people in her immediate and larger networks shape her ability to survive/cope? Did luck play any role?

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