Skip to main content
 

WHY I LEFT RWANDA

Long read

HAPPY’S STORY

Growing up in Rwanda

The reason why I left my country was human degradation, discrimination, human rights, and abuse. And also emotional, physical and financial abuse. It is hard for me to get into details because they trigger my PTSD, but I try my best as much as possible. So, actually, my story starts from how I was born, then you understand. My mum is Tutsi, and my dad was Hutu. So  I’m mixed., unfortunately, my dad died when mum was pregnant with me. So, I was raised by Mom only. When I was young, my mum taught us to love everybody, she never mentioned anything about ethnicity. We were taught to love each other as Christians,  we were taught to follow Jesus Example. When I was growing up, the genocide happened, and I’ve lost my uncle on my dad’s side, which was Hutu. I’ve lost my aunties, cousins and other family members from my mom’s side.

When I was growing up, the government changed the story and say what happened was genocide against Tutsi. So in April the commemoration period, we were not allowed to moan our loss. We were not allowed to commemorate all our members of the family I mean my Fathers side. They government said that only Tutsi were killed, but it was not true. My uncle was killed [who was Hutu]. It was painful for our family to be dismissed as if we didn’t exist.

Actually, the government doesn’t care about the Hutu families. So now they put Tutsi first . And last, Hutu. It was very hard. It’s always hard. For us. I believe so many Rwandans experienced the same thing. We have so much pain. but we can’t speak out. We live in fear. We are scared. That’s how we survive. If you want to survive there you just keep quiet.  Don’t try to tell them what they believe is wrong or that what they’re preaching is wrong.

"The reason why I left my country was human degradation, discrimination and human rights abuse"

At University 

There was a deputy. That she was our neighbour. She had kids and was wealthy, and my mum was a secretary, so there was no way that my mum was earning more than her. So they stopped my bursary. But all her kids got bursaries which was so unfair. I struggled a lot, there was no way that I was going to afford uni cause it’s not cheap. It’s expensive. I thought that I was going to drop out. I was going to stop going to uni. But I got lucky that there was a lecturer who helped me. He gave me a job. To keep me pushing and somebody agreed to fund my studies. Thank God and bless that person.

I kept going to uni, but what I faced there was another level [of discrimination], so in April, People changed and acted differently toward me like. You could see that their anger, they were angry at you, and no one was talking to you like people had changed. It was really shocking and also confusing because I  did not kill anyone in the genocide I also lost my family. So it was not easy.  I used to go home just for that period for the commemoration period, just to have peace because I felt safer at home rather than being in school.  I was scared that someone was going to harm me because it was really serious. It was really bad.

I’m trying to remember; It was before I started uni. There was this campaign where you had to become a member of RPF (Rwandan Patriotic Front by force), so I said no. I said I’m not interested in politics. I’m not going to do that. I don’t want to be a member. They harassed me. They really harassed me, but thank God I don’t know how, but I survived that. They knew when I finish my studies, I’d start working so they can come back to me and that’s why they let me to study.

"I was scared that someone was going to harm me because it was really serious."

"People changed and acted differently toward me like. You could see that their anger, they were angry at you, and no one was talking to you like people had changed. "

Working in Rwanda

When I started working, we were forced to pay RPF contribution; they will take money from your salary, and that money would go to the other peers. That was nonsense. It’s my money. I worked for that, you know. But we were forced to do that because I was working for the government. So, if I refused to contribute, I would lose my job.

And luckily, they didn’t check if I signed  the paper to become a member or not. the head of the department said. OK, I’m going to set a certain amount. He put in 50,000 random francs, and he said no one was going to go below that amount and that that amount of money is a lot for Rwandans. Our salary was quite good, but It was not fair. We could have used that money to help other people or to, you know, to help our family or we could have spent that money on something else.

I told myself it was okay; at least I was lucky they didn’t ask if I had a sign to join the party or not, so they let me keep my job. I kept working there till things started to change and because I was in a bad place there. Some people would think that they were pure Tutsj, and when they found out about Dad, they just changed, then things became something else as well; they started treating me differently. That was so confusing. I had an identity crisis for my entire life. I felt not accepted there. It was really hard. It wasn’t only for me; the whole family faced a lot like my sisters.

Then I got another job, which was for the government. Then, a campaign was launched by a group, Youth Connect, which was called Domain Rwandan or Am Rwanda, with propaganda that encouraged youths to apologise for the participation of their relatives and parents in the genocide. Can you believe that nonsense? Like we lost? We lost our family. Not all Hutus commit genocide, to be honest. That was really painful, to be honest.

At work, some ministers started “to set an example”, and there were some messages on Twitter to encourage Hutus to ask for forgiveness. At work, I was called to join the campaign. I was shocked. I froze. I didn’t know what to say. I wanted to keep my job. I said give me time. I’m going to think about it. For me, I was honestly not going to do it, but I was trying to take some time to look for another job and get out of there because there was no way that I was going to ask for forgiveness. Like what? What did I do?

The treatment was not good, and the pay, the salary, when I joined that institution. I was with another group of people, and I  was the only woman. We were all consultants and on the same level, so the salary was supposed to be the same, but it was among all the groups. They chose to pay me less. And when I tried to raise that issue, they said if you’re unhappy, find a job elsewhere. Can you believe that? I kept quiet. I said God, at least I have a job because finding a job in Rwanda is a problem; it is not easy. Trust me, it’s not easy.

So I decided to push in the time being and just to take whatever they offer. If I get another job, I will leave. In my workplace, my colleagues used to insult me. Just sit in a room and say how much they hate Hutus. I don’t know if they knew that I was Hutu or they did it on purpose. But I think they did it on purpose,  to hurt me. They would say I always teach my kids to never, never, ever try to marry a Hutu. If they do that, they’re not going to be successful. These people deserve nothing good in their lives. They’re animals. They’re snakes. They used to say really shocking words. And I’m there sitting in the room.

Sometimes I used to speak to my phone and pretend that I was on call or leave the room because it was really painful to hear what they were saying.

"I was scared that someone was going to harm me because it was really serious."

"People changed and acted differently toward me like. You could see that their anger, they were angry at you, and no one was talking to you like people had changed. "

Marriage

After that, I started dating a guy. He was a highly-ranked Special Force officer. Initially, I thought he was clean because that’s the  image showed me. I thought that he didn’t have such a mindset because he was as young as me. Anyway, when I dated that person at the beginning, it was OK. He met my mum. He was OK with it. We planned to get married; we did the registry; after a few weeks, I heard my uncle died that was put in jail.  He was accused of being involved in genocide, and He helped people to commit genocide, but that was not true. He was quite a famous person; he was an artist and rich when the genocide took place.

When he died, I had to go to the funeral; he was my family. That was when things got bad at home. So my husband came back home. I was grieving. He was like I didn’t know that I married a Hutus. I wish I had known that before I got married. You. He abused me constantly. I was beaten up. I was raped, I was abused financially. Just because he found out that I am Hutu]. I got pregnant. Then, someday, he came back home. I was scared to tell him, you know, he was good news to me, but. I was like this person; he was beating me up as if he wanted to kill me. The way he was doing it. I could see that his intention was to kill me. And he was trained, so he used to harm me in a way that if I go out the next day, no one is going to see. Like anything on my body, no one is going to tell me that this person has been beaten up the whole night.

I told him that I got pregnant. He came back home. He beat me. I thought that night I thought that I was going to die. He would tap on me, saying that Inkotanyi cant have a kid that had this Hutu blood. There’s no way that someone in the army, there’s no way that, is going to have to keep the kid with Hutu blood. Unfortunately because of the abuse I had a miscarriage..  I will not. Go into details. So I was hurt. I was in a dark place; I wished to die. I didn’t know whom to tell that because the government doesn’t care about Hutus, and the fact who he is, I wouldn’t get help at all.

I Remember someday I called the police. When they saw who he was, they said sorry, Sir, we didn’t know this was your home. They apologise to him. They didn’t check on me.

I’m on my own, so my life is in God’s hands. If I am supposed to die, I’ll die. If I’m supposed to stay alive, God is going to make way for me. So I was really in pain. I couldn’t go to therapy because he said if I tried to tell anyone he would, he would kill me. Then I joined. Join the Kizito Mihigo community group which promotes reconciliation and forgiveness among Hutu and Tutsi. I felt like those are the only people that can help me heal from my husband oppression and understand me  Understand what I went through and. Help me how to forgive. They really helped me. We prayed a lot and they supported me emotionally.. In Rwanda, they actually banned everything about Kizito. If someone gets in trouble and the authorities find out any link with him like reading his books or listening to his music and following his philosophy, they will be in big trouble. He died in 2020.

The group helped to start finding the meaning of life again. I learned how to forgive. You know, I would say that it kept me put, you know, being alive, wanting to be alive.

"If I am supposed to die, I'll die. If I'm supposed to stay alive, God is going to make way for me."

Moving to the UK and the hostile environment

So luckily, in 2022 I managed to leave the country and took a plane and flew here. Arrive in the UK in 2022. But I came when my husband was on his mission. So I came to the UK without telling him. When He went home and couldn’t find me. He dug into my computer and found out all the things about Kizito that I’ve been reading in his book. So that became a problem. He reported me at his work. And the security organs started harassing my family and threatened them. They were asking my whereabouts. They said my family] I am working with an ennemies of the country .. That was insane. My husband told at his work that  I knew a lot about my husband’s work and his missions. Because he used to discuss. He used to tell me things. Well, it was true, but I never asked for that. They told my family that I joined an opposition party operating out of the country , and that’s something that is not accepted in Rwanda and they left summons for me.

They kept harassing my family. My family has monitored it day and night until now. So I was threatened that this ago he threatened me that if I don’t go back they will bring me by force, dead or alive. And that I’m not famous. So it’s it’s gonna be easy for them to get rid of me. No one is going to claim. No one is going to look for me. That was. That’s really scary. When I first heard of these threads, I got very ill and couldn’t go out although I was here.

My ex-husband still sending me lots of death threats. , at the beginning, was for me was shocking. It was scary and it was hard for me to go outside. In his threats he said. that I’m not famous, so it’s gonna be easy for them to get rid of me. They know where I am. They know that I’m here. And they will bring me back dead or alive. So if I have a brain, I should go and explain what they found on my computer. So this put me in a very stressful situation.where I couldn’t go out and wished to die. I was scared. Yes, until now, I’m scared. But thanks to therapy now, I can go outside sometimes. when it started. I was in a dark place. I couldn’t go outside. I stayed indoors for a month. I was really sad that I had to put my family to go through this. My family is trapped now. You can’t go anywhere because of me. ., as they’re claiming that I know I have a lot of information about. My husbands-work. So that means I if I go there. God knows what’s going to happen. I’m going to die in prison and  be  tortured as well because of having special forces information. Information that I’m not supposed to have. It’s scary. It’s scary. And they don’t want a whole to.

When I did my asylum interview, the big interview. And I believe the government was rushing because of the Rwanda bill .. I go a decision few days before, they court decide about the Rwanda bill, if Rwanda is safe or not.. so I was refused asylum.

First of all, they didn’t give me enough time to explain what happened to me. Secondly the person interviewing me said we didn’t have much time, Try to be brief. We didn’t go into details. She said If I don’t, I don’t ask you to go into details don’t go into detaild.. I was like, OK then. They made the decision, they said. I didn’t give them many details on A, B,C, and D and was told in the interview not to do so. I was shocked. After the interview, you usually receive a copy of your interview to see if you want to rectify anything or add something. And I was not given that chance. They took a decision without giving me a copy of my interview. And they also said they didn’t give them enough information. Also, my documents were being translated. My solicitor told them that I needed more time. To get all the documents done and ready. They ignored that and made a decision. And denied my asylum claim,, which is so unfair.

What I feel about Rwanda and if I think there is a safe place for refugees: No, Rwanda is not safe for refugees. I don’t know why they ignore that. I remember an event that happened in 2018. They killed 12 refugees. The police shot 12 refugees. So how? What do you expect? How do you think that those people who they are sending there are going to be safe? It’s not a safe country. It’s not safe for refugees.

Another question: what do I think of this scheme? I think that scheme is about money. It’s just business. Everyone must know something about Rwanda: The government of Rwanda only cares about money. They want anything that can bring them money, and for example, Rwanda is not a rich country, but They go and invest in Arsenal and, For  [publicity.  There are a lot of people in Rwanda who barely eat one time a day. People are hungry; people are poor there. The government doesn’t care about the people who live there; they don’t care about Rwandans, so how are they gonna care about Refugees who are not even Rwandans? They should think about that. So, the scheme is about money. They want money for the government, not for the Rwandans. No, the Rwandans are not going to benefit from that money. The Refugees are not going to benefit from that money. The government is just going to use that money.

To answer the last question when I was there. I did not notice any improvement. Things are getting worse. We have social problems, we have economic problems, we have economic problems. We have an issue of, you know, they violate human rights every day. If you heard my story, There’s a lot I didn’t tell you. They violate human rights every single day. A lot of people there are just scared. They don’t speak out. There’s no freedom of speech. journalists are not free there You say something that doesn’t support what the government. You will be jailed or killed. They killed so many  journalists. They killed Bloggers. They will control everything, even what you wear: for example, if you’re wearing a see-through dress, the next day, you find yourself like in jail.

These are so many examples of the events that happened there, and I wonder how they wish those refugees to have such a life living there as like living in. It is a permanent prison. Because, to be honest. I feel like I’ve been living in a permanent for my whole life.

I don’t wish anyone to have such a life, to have a life that I used to have.