It was April 1994 and Rwanda was about to be covered by litres of blood.
Hundreds of people from the Hutu ethnic group were sharpening their machetes waiting for the signal that would start the massacres.
In Rwanda, tensions between Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups had started when the Belgians took control of the country in 1922 and supported the Tutsi political power, exacerbating ethnic differences between Hutu and Tutsi by, among other things, introducing the compulsory use of identity cards.
After years of subjugation, the Hutu started a revolution that led to the 1962 declaration of independence and the establishment of the Rwanda republic, led by the MDR-Parmehutu.
However, the country did not find peace and sporadic violence between the Hutu government and Tutsi rebels rocked the newly independent nation.
In 1990 the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), created by Tutsi refugees who had fled along with their families to Uganda due to ethnic violence in the previous years, invaded Rwanda, starting the Rwanda civil war, which lasted until 1994.
It was 6th April of that year when hundreds of thousands of Rwandans learned by radio that the then Hutu president Juvénal Habyarimana, and Burundi’s President Cyprien Ntaryamira had died in a plane crash. The incident sparked suspicions that the Tutsi had carried out an attack against the Rwandan president. It is still not known today whether the crash was planned or not.
The same day, hundreds of Hutu – armed with machetes, guns, AK 47s, grenades and even bombs – were told to “cut the tall trees”. The signal had arrived.
Between 800,000 and 1 million Tutsi and moderate Hutu (who refused to take part in the killings of the Tutsi) were massacred by the Hutu before the eyes of the international community.
Twenty-one years later, the country is still recovering from one of the worst massacres in history, many culprits are still at large and victims are struggling to find peace and coping with their pain.
We must not forget what happened during those three months of 1994 and we must remember that similar things still occur around the world, where hundreds of thousands of people are persecuted and executed while the international community stays silent.
Ludovica Iaccino wrote a book to shed light on the Rwanda genocide.
10 April 1994: The Silence of Nyamata is a historical novel that tells the tormented love story between a Tutsi girl and a Hutu boy in Nyamata, a town in southeastern Rwanda. The book was published as an e-book in January 2015 and can be ordered via Amazon for £3.99.
Part of the proceeds will be donated to the sisters of Charity Saint Jeanne Antide in Shire, Ethiopia, where Ludovica did volunteer work with street children in August 2014.