AMONG the bric-a-brac littering the wooden desk in my hostel room is a genocide survivor's business card. Okay, that is not literally written next to Rosette Sebasoni's name, but it may as well be. Parts of the 34-year-old insurance broker's tale are told to anyone who pays close attention at the Kigali Memorial Centre, one of the many survivor stories on display.
When Sebasoni agreed to an interview, I did not know quite how close she worked to Discover Rwanda. We convene in front of Discover's main entrance. The petite woman with short-cropped hair and a snappy blue business skirt and jacket ensemble who greets me is warm, bustling with energy. You never would know she was showing up to relive her personal part in one of modern history's most-terrible chapters.
We first sit down on the deck, but there is too much noise, and I suggest moving to the lobby inside, countering her idea of venturing to my room. I start recording and there again are too many passersby for the sensitive microphone, what with Discover's main cash register right behind us. "I think we're going to go to your room," she says, and I do not resist further.
By my own fairly generous standards, my room is a complete mess. Currency from three different countries colors my desk. Mosquito netting is strewn haphazardly around the bed, itself covered with many sets of clothes, my laptop, the spent batteries I hastily have exchanged for fresh ones in my audio recorder, and my box of malaria pills. The only reason my open suitcase does not greet us with a display of its innards, too, is because the suspicious traveler in me unfailingly locks it shut every time before leaving the premises.
Sebasoni does not blink as I clumsily apologize, and offers to sit on the mattress, but I convince her to take the only chair, and scatter my belongings to make myself a spot in the chaos instead.
Remarkably, she does not need to hear The Lecture. Rosette believes the story of the Rwandan genocide and its victims should be known far and wide, no tragedy trade is necessary to coax the details of what happened to the Sebasonis out of her.
She was on the cusp of turning 16 when her life turned to hell. Rosette lived with her parents, Aphrodis Sebasoni and Dorothee Kandamutsa; her older brother, Freddy Mutanguha Sebasoni; four younger sisters, Consolee, Angelique, Florence, and Illuminee; and an adopted sister, Jeanne, in the district of Kibuye. It is roughly a two-hour drive west of Kigali, near the shores of Lake Kivu. Now only Rosette and Freddy remain.
At first, a Hutu acquaintance told them they could hide at his house, saying the killings were a type of passing fad, and they would be safe once it was all over. Slim protection, at best. "How are these Tutsis still alive?" asked Interahamwe militia who dropped by for a visit on April 14, 1994, seven days after the start of...