Sula Karuhimbi

Poor and elderly, Sula saved dozens of people during the genocide, with only her strength of character and compassion.

Courage doesn’t always appear where you expect it. Many of those who fought against the genocide and its ideology in Rwanda did so very modestly and in an isolated way. Thus numerous farmers or simple villagers risked their own lives to help those doomed to die. Sula KARUHIMBI is one of those ordinary people that did something extraordinary. Who would have believed her story if the people she saved hadn’t survived to tell it?

Sula declares she was born in 1913, and was aged 82 at the time of the genocide. However, like many Rwandans of her age, it is difficult to know her exact age because of the lack of registration of birth. She has always lived in Musamo, in the commune of Ntongwe, in the district of Gitarama, in the centre of Rwanda. Sula lived alone at the time of the genocide. Living close to the road, she was used to lodging people looking for work in the region. Sula provided for herself by farming a small plot of land. Also known as “Mama Domitille”, Domitille is the name of her daughter living in Kigali, she is a healer who has mastered the art of traditional medicine like no other. Many come to see her to heal their kidneys or skin diseases.

At the end of April 1994, the genocide begins in Ntongwe. Sula says she saw Tutsi houses burned down, and lifeless bodies. “When I was a child, they were burning the belongings of Tutsi and were chasing them out. And today, it starts again!” she explains. That is when Tutsi started coming to take refuge at “Mama Domitille”. The first were neighbours, young girls. Sula welcomed them all, even strangers.