Gacaca courts proceedings / Courtesy
During the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, Mukeshimana Dominique was an energetic 21-year-old interahamwe militant. He was an active member of a swift group of merciless killers operating in Gitarama Prefecture.
Growing up, divisive politics were the norm. His own parents did their part in instilling hate into him. When time came, he answered the call, picked a machete and went to work.
For three months, Dominique and his colleagues killed their own neighbors, childhood friends and members of the congregation of their local parish. They set a road block at Rugendabari junction and killed every Tutsi they found. They murdered a lot of people en route to Kabgayi, including women and children.
In July 1994, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) stopped the genocide and embarked on a challenging journey of reconciliation and reconstruction while ensuring Justice takes its course. Dominique became a fugitive trying to escape justice.
He fled to a remote hill known as Ndiza. Blood of many innocent people were on his hands and their souls haunted him. He became miserable and depressed. After four years on the run and several unsuccessful suicide attempts, he returned home, approached families of the victims he killed and confessed his sins. He begged for forgiveness.
Dominique was later convicted by Gacaca courts and got quite a lenient sentence. He served part of his sentence out of prison doing community service under a program known as Travaux d’Intérêt Général (TIG).
Upon completion of the program, he returned to his community and reconciled with those whose beloved ones succumbed to his sharp machete in 1994. Despite the gravity of the crimes he had committed, forgiveness was granted and a new lease of life began.
Having been reintegrated into the community, he saw the need to go to school. In pursuit of basic education, Dominique found himself in the same class with his daughter. He was in grade one at the age of 38.
"Today, I live harmoniously with neighbors I once did unimaginable things to. We have put the past behind us and together we are building a unified nation." He says.