Tensions had long simmered between Rwanda’s Tutsi and Hutu tribes. “The genocide was a culmination of four decades of bad politics and ethnic injustices,” explains Pastor Antoine Rutayisire, 55.

Europeans—first the Germans, then the Belgians who colonized Rwanda in 1916—set the stage for hate. The Belgians introduced identity cards in the 1930s, dividing people by tribe—Hutu, Tutsi, and Twa, a hunter-gatherer group.

Before, all had thought of themselves as Rwandan.

Although the Hutus were the majority, the Belgians favored the Tutsis, considering them a superior tribe based on supposed physical differences. Intermarriage between the tribes muddied the waters, making it difficult to assign identity. To simplify the process, a child was classified based on the tribe of his or her father. If a person didn’t know which tribe he was from, it was determined by how many cows he owned. More than 10 cows meant you were a Tutsi.

Tutsi kings governed Rwanda until 1959, when King Mutara III died. During that year, the peasant farmers began what would be called the “Hutu revolution,” which culminated in abolishing the monarchy. The ensuing civil war between the Hutus and the Tutsis cost 150,000 lives, including Antoine’s father, in 1963.

Antoine was 5. “I know how you feel when you hate people and have to live with them,” he says.

Many Tutsis fled to Burundi and neighboring countries. By the mid-1960s, half the Tutsi population lived outside Rwanda.

Hutu leaders took power, and the government began to spread a message of hate against the Tutsis, using extremists on the radio to call upon the Hutus to attack and kill Tutsis, whom they called cockroaches.

  • Timeline

    April 2014 marks 20 years after the genocide in Rwanda, where nearly 1 million Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed within 100 days.

  • 1916

    Belgians colonize Rwanda.

  • 1931

    Belgians introduce identity cards, detailing each person’s “ethnicity” of Hutu, Tutsi, or Twa.

  • 1959

    Riots ensue between Hutus and Tutsis. More than 20,000 Tutsis are killed, and many more flee to the neighboring countries of Burundi, Tanzania, and Uganda.

  • 1963

    Civil war ensues between Hutus and Tutsis, costing 150,000 lives.

  • 1990

    Rebels of the Tutsi-dominated Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) invade northern Rwanda from neighboring Uganda. The RPF’s success prompts President Juvenal Habyarimana, a Hutu, to speed up political reforms to legalize opposition parties.

  • August, 1993

    Rwanda and the RPF sign a deal to end years of civil conflict, allowing for power-sharing and refugees’ return. The transitional government fails to take off, and sides trade blame.

  • April 6, 1994

    Habyarimana and Burundi President Cyprien Ntaryamira, on returning to Kigali after peace negotiations, are killed in a rocket attack on their airplane.

  • April 7, 1994

    Presidential guards kill moderate Hutu Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiwimana, who sought to quell tensions. Habyarimana’s death triggers a 100-day spree of violence, perpetrated mainly by Hutus against Tutsis and moderate Hutus. About 800,000 people are killed. The rebels start a new offensive.

  • April 15, 1994

    About 20,000 people seek refuge from the violence at the Nyarubuye Roman Catholic Church, where most are slain by attackers carrying spears, hatchets, knives, and automatic rifles.

  • April 21, 1994

    The United Nations pulls 90 percent of its troops from Rwanda, leaving only 270 U.N. soldiers in the country.

  • April 30, 1994

    Refugees flood Burundi, Tanzania, and Zaire (now Democratic Republic of the Congo).

  • May, 1994

    World Vision’s Heather MacLeod, a New Zealand nurse, begins work with thousands of children separated from their families.

  • May 17, 1994

    U.N. officials say that genocide may be happening in Rwanda.

  • June 22, 1994

    The U.N. sends 2,500 French troops to Rwanda to create a safe zone. The action, called Operation Turquoise, is not successful, as Tutsis continue to be killed in the safe zone.

  • July 13, 1994

    Every hour, more than 10,000 refugees from Rwanda cross into Zaire, looking for safety. There are so many people crossing the border that there is not enough food, water, or shelter for everybody.

For Antoine, being Tutsi begat blow after blow. “Every 10 years,” he says, “I had something to remind me I’m living in a country where I’m hated and taken as a second-class citizen.” At 15, he was kicked out of school. At 25, he was fired from his job. And when he was 35—in 1994—everything fell apart.

On the night of April 6, 1994, the plane carrying Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana, a Hutu, was shot down near the airport in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital. It triggered a mass hysteria such as the world has rarely seen. In the next 100 days, nearly 20 percent of Rwanda’s population would die—many by machete, blow by blow hacking away at peace, friendships, families, and communities.

One of the many scenes of carnage was near Andrew’s village in Murambi. There 50,000 Tutsis were massacred in just eight hours in a vocational school where desperate families had taken refuge. Today, the site is preserved as a genocide memorial.

The mass killing stopped when the Rwandan Patriotic Front, an army of Tutsis and moderate Hutus (led by current President Paul Kagame), seized the capital and took power in July 1994.

In the aftermath, says Andrew, “hatred developed among people in this village. Those who survived against those who killed. Those friendships that characterized this village disappeared.”

It was true of Andrew and Callixte. “I hated him,” says Andrew. “My wife didn’t have anyone left in her family.”

There were too many genocide perpetrators for the courts to try, so the government instituted gacaca courts in the villages, based on traditional Rwandan judicial principles. Villagers stepped forward to implicate the people they had seen participating in the killings. The prisons filled up with those convicted in the gacaca courts.

Andrew implicated Callixte.

Andrew reflects on the past — and the gulf of hate that separated him from Callixte.