The thinkers got the genocide going, and the militants paid for the damage.
How does one even begin to imagine the 1994 carnage that took place in the marshes of Nyamata and the streets of Ntarama? How to understand the machete-wielding Hutus cutting thousands of their neighbor Tutsis to pieces and soaking them in their own blood? What to think of the murderers getting up early in the morning, polishing their machetes, going out in the field, hunting for Tutsis, butchering their finds, and coming back home for dinner – and they followed this routine religiously and unquestioningly for two months as though it was just all work and nothing more?
Elie, one of the killers, ratiocinates: “In the end, a man is like an animal: you give him a whack on the head or the neck, and down he goes.” That simple.
And, all this hate, where is it coming from? I am struggling here because I refuse to believe that Hutus hate Tutsis for the latter’s elegance and beauty and snootiness. So envy brought about one of the most inconceivable bloodbaths in history? So envy explains the killers’ readiness and willingness to slaughter their neighbors? So it all comes down to envy?
What I find most bewildering though is how the killers have easily moved on from the genocide. It’s almost naïve how they feel entitled to forgiveness without even being sincerely sorry about what they did. It’s aggravating how they look forward to their release thinking they can just go back to their village, cultivate their land, and be neighbors again with the remaining Tutsis they failed to butcher.
“Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak” is all about the individuals who participated in the genocide and what they have to say about their unspeakable acts. Jean Hatzfeld masterfully got them to talk in the hope of making sense of the bloodshed. But I have to say it’s still the victims whose words and views I find most heartfelt:
Berthe: Before, I knew a man could kill another man, because it happened all the time. Now I know that even the person with whom you’ve shared food, or with whom you’ve slept, even he can kill you with no trouble. The closest neighbor can turn out to be the most horrible. An evil person can kill you with his teeth: that is what I have learned since the genocide, and my eyes no longer gaze the same on the face of the world.