Soldiers killed my parents, siblings and left me with a broken leg

Sunday April 23 2023
Rwanda genocide victims

Photographs of victims of the 1994 Rwandan genocide against the Tutsi are displayed inside the Kigali Genocide Memorial in Gisozi. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA | NMG


Uwera Didacienne was 10 when Genocide Against Tutsi started. Her family lived near the edge of Kanombe International Airport and she still remembers events of April 6 evening at around 7:30 pm. She remembers seeing an unusually bright light up in the sky, but little did she know that it was the president’s plane coming down, which will mark the beginning of bloodbath.

Armed soldiers stormed her home the following day at around 2pm, they found seven members of her family of nine holed up in their home. She heard voices of the soldiers, saying, “how come this old man’s family is still alive, we thought he was already dead.”

At first, her father had refused to open the door, but after they fired a bullet through the door he opened. The frenzied soldiers numbered around 12, pulled them out into the  courtyard, while they beat, mocked and searched her father’s pockets for any money.

After the search and not finding any money they shot her father, then in terror, the rest of the family crumbled to the ground, with their mother in front, in protective posture of her children, starting with their last born, then Uwera and her other little sister behind her, her older brother had slipped away in the chaos and ran for his life.

The soldiers then started firing a barrage of bullets in execution-style towards them, for what she says lasted about 15 minutes.

“The smell and sounds of fi red bullets stayed with me long after this incident” Uwera later woke up from her shock, then she saw her little sister Clarisse rolling in pain, and saw that she had been shot in the stomach and her intestines were out.


She tried calling their mother, and realized she was already dead, and that’s when she attempted to stand only to realize her leg and arm had been broken by bullets. Her little sister, Goretti, who was behind had been slightly wounded by a bullet that went through Uwera’s arm, then she saw her mother’s brains splattered on her leg because the bullet
that went through her head is the one that hit Uwera’s leg.

The soldiers went on to shoot other relatives who lived not far away from their home. Uwera was among the 33 wounded children who were airlifted to France for specialised treatment, she came back a year and a half later fully recovered.

She is now a mother, but lives with the psychological and emotional wounds of losing her entire family.