Culture and Panic Disorder

By Devon E. Hinton; Byron J. Good | Go to book overview

9
'Ihahamuka,' a Rwandan syndrome
of response to the Genocide
Blocked Flow, Spirit Assault, and Shortness of Breath

Athanase Hagengimana and Devon E. Hinton

But the fact is that most of the massacres were carried out using more
basic weapons: machetes, knives, axes, hoes, hammers, spears, blud-
geons, or clubs studded with nails (known as ntampongano or “with-
out pity”). I don't need to dwell on the horror of these deaths, the
frightful noise of skulls being smashed in, the sound of bodies falling
on top of each other. Every Rwandan still has these sounds etched in
their memory, and will for a long time: the screams of people being
killed, the groans of the dying and, perhaps worst of all, the unbear-
able silence of death which still hangs over the mass graves.

Sibomana 1999:59

ON APRIL 6, 1994, a plane carrying the Hutu president of Rwanda and several other high-level Hutu leaders was shot down over the Rwandan capital of Kigali (Straus 2006). The next day the genocide began. Hutu hunted down and killed Tutsi, often using crude instruments such as machetes and nail-studded clubs, at other times killing by drowning and other methods, such as throwing grenades into churches, schools, and other public buildings where people gathered, frequently in the thousands, for refuge, then rushing in to fnish the work with handheld weapons, often in successive waves over the course of hours or days (Des Forges 1999; Gourevitch 1998; Hatzfeld 2000; Keane 1995; Sibomana 1999; Taylor 1999). Rape was also common (Straus 2006). The killing and persecution continued for

-205-

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