Consolee Nishimwe was a 14-year-old girl when she was forced from her home and into hiding during the three-month massacre known as the Rwandan Genocide.
An estimated 800,000 people were killed in the massacre, which took place in Rwanda between April and July of 1994.
Nishimwe, a survivor of the Rwandan Genocide, visited campus on Tuesday, April 8 to share her story of loss and hope, and lead the USF community in commemorating those who lost their lives twenty years ago.
She spoke of the tragedies she witnessed as friends and neighbors turned against her and her family, as well as the physical and emotional torture she personally endured.
Having lost much of her immediate family, she spoke of often losing the hope and will to live, but shared with the audience her mother’s words to “just keep praying within your heart.”
Despite her tragic story, Nishimwe escaped the genocide with her mother and sister, and expressed the importance to always remain hopeful.
Following her speech, attendees partook in a candlelight vigil and took a moment of silence to remember the lives lost during the killings. Nishimwe also held a book signing for her 2012 memoir, “Tested to the Limit: A Genocide Survivor’s Story of Pain, Resilience and Hope.”
Since 1994, Nishimwe has become a vigorous defender of global women’s rights, and a committed speaker on genocide.
The departments of International Studies and African Studies hosted the event, titled “Twenty Years Later: Commemorating the Rwandan Genocide with Consolee Nishimwe,” during this month of global reflection.
Tutsis and moderate Hutus were massacred by Hutu extremists in what were then called merely ‘acts’ of genocide. As the world stood by, this genocide raged in Rwanda against entire families, often through mass killings in hospitals and churches. These unspeakable acts of hate and violence were built upon a convoluted and hostile history heightened by colonialism, and resulted in an estimated 800,000 lost lives.
The Rwandan Community of California will be holding a commemoration of the 1994 genocide on Thursday, May 15 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Stanford University.