Rwanda: The Hutu and Tutsi Team

Rwandan volleyball player in Sportweek magazine. Image by Tomaso Clavarino, 2014.

This story was published in the Italian magazine Sportweek.

Before the 1994 genocide, Dominique Bizimana, a former Tutsi fighter for the Rwanda Patriotic Front, was a volleyball player. His dream was to reach the Olympics, but the war and a serious injury in which he has lost a leg made that unlikely. Dominique never gave up and after a decade he finally made it: He was in London in 2012, not at the Olympic Games, but as a participant in the Paralympics. He was there with the Rwandan sitting volleyball team, probably the best example of the “new Rwanda.”

Made up of both Tutsi and Hutu, the team has become a symbol of the reconciliation process. The majority of the players suffered injuries and amputation during the 1994 genocide. The captain, Dominique, is a Tutsi, and Jean Rukundo, the vice captain, a Hutu. They were enemies; they killed. Now they play on the same team and fight together for qualification for the 2016 games in Rio de Janeiro.