Triphine Tuhabonye

As Interviewed by Lucas Abounader, March 15, 2015

Triphine Tuhabonye: In Her Own Words

There were many attacks. 1960s, 1972 -- I didnít see those -- 1980s, and the major one in 1993. Where I lived, it affected us by fear: you can see a Hutu and say, ďwell, heís going to kill me.Ē

Yet even now I donít see anything that would have caused the conflict, because the only place I would go was the boarding school, where we were supposed to live together, share the same dorm, same table during dinner, breakfast or lunch. We shared everything, and I donít see anything that could have caused the conflict. They didnít separate us and say, ďYou are Tutsi and you are Hutu. You go this way and you go that way.Ē

Before it was supposed to be a conflict between the tribes, but once someone got to the power, everyone is afraid. It doesnít matter if it is a Hutu or a Tutsi, if they donít belong to their political party or share the same ideas. I think it is hunger to be in power -- I think itís the power they needed. Thatís what I fear: itís politics. The tension is between the politicians, and people who are active in politics. Not only in the capital but even in the small mountains there are people who are really active in politics.

Before President Melchior Ndadaye it was a dictatorship, and then they introduced democracy. They elected him, and I donít know what happened in the government, but they killed him, and the same day they killed him was the same day they killed other innocent people. I donít know how you can kill the president and then at the same time many innocent Tutsis are killed.

My husband was the only one I saw try to promote peace. He is here now and not worried about what is going on. You can try to promote peace, but when you are there -- first you have to worry about your security and then focus on the peace afterwards. Most people are afraid, really afraid. Not just Tutsis, but Hutus who donít belong in the parties who have the power. Because if you say something, they will kill you, even today. It doesnít matter who you are. You just say anything against them and they kill you. So everyone is afraid.

I donít think weíve made any progress. I feel like Burundi went down in everything -- the economy, the peace. I donít think the corruption went away; everything is down. I feel like in 1993 everythingÖ exploded, and no one knows what to do now.