At only 9-years-old, Habimana Emmanuel survived the world’s most devastating human genocide in the small East African nation of Rwanda. With the help of the Student Society for Bridging Diversity, Emmanuel came to Springfield College to share his inspiring story.
A smart, charismatic young man at 26-years-old, Emmanuel is studying at college, co-directing a documentary in production, and can speak four different languages, English being his fourth. Inside Marsh Memorial, Emmanuel addressed students on his firsthand account of surviving the Rwanda Genocide.
Emmanuel grew up a Tutsi, so the rivaling tribe, the Hutu, who sought to exterminate their enemy, the Tutsi, hunted him and his family. His story began with him running from their house with his family to a field not far away, where he witnessed their house burning to the ground.
His survival took him to many different families’ homes, where he would hide for long periods of time. He even witnessed the capturing of his father as a young child, and the sounds and images of massive amounts of people being brutally murdered.
Emmanuel’s intelligence and quick thinking as a young boy saved his life after hiding in a schoolhouse for three days with no water or food. When discovered, he lied to the Hutu soldiers and said he was one of them. The 9-year-olds quick-witted move saved his life.
“I thought it was incredible to realize how young he was,” said student Ivan Prybylo. “It’s amazing he holds such a positive outlook on the world even after living through these terrible experiences.”
Habimana was an incredibly nice, outgoing guy with such a positive outlook on a terrible experience.
“I want people to realize life continues,” said Habimana. “We need to rebuild communities to move forward.”