Ageing After Genocide: Initial Explorations in Rwanda

In 1994 800,000 Rwandans were murdered, most often by hand, in a genocidal catastrophe implemented at a pace not seen since the European Holocaust. Public services were decimated – more than half of public officials died – and a generation of orphans, children of sexal violence and survivors began their subsequent journey. Outward flight, inward migration, memory , and the legal processing of perpetrators were a core feature of subsequent periods lived out as social protection, health , family welfare have had to be (re) built in communities where the impact on social and family structure were enduring. As life expectancy and child mortality improves Rwanda is now one of three African countries expecting the number of over 60’s to triple over the next 30 years.

This presentation will reflect on field interviews recently undertaken in three contrasting localities with older survivors and their families , the impact of Rwanda’s changes on assumptions about family support , stigma, inclusion, biographical pain’, agency and a distinctive ageing process among the ageing processes of Africa. It will also raise questions regarding ageing in other genocide contexts such as Cambodia, Srebrenica and Darfur .