Revisiting the Rwandan Genocide: Origin Stories From The Associated Press

Photographer Jean-Marc Bouju was one of the first journalists to drive into Kigali, Rwanda twenty years ago this month, upon hearing of growing ethnic unrest in the area. It was unclear what was happening at the time, and there was no way of knowing that within the next 100 days, nearly one million people would be slaughtered with machetes and farm tools in what would become known as the Rwandan genocide.

Things seemed normal along the drive at first, Bouju recalls. But soon he began to encounter road blocks leading into the city, and he saw people separated into two lines: one passing through the station, the other leading behind it where, he describes, “you could hear the hacking sounds of machetes.” From there, it only became more horrifying.

“What I saw was a vision of hell,” Bouju describes, “A particular hell where you have daily life going on, people shopping, but meanwhile other people are butchering each other right there in the same street. The nonchalance of death was astonishing. And I cannot get that out of my mind. To this day, I don’t understand it. But I left a little bit of my soul there somewhere.”

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