Hackney Rwandan genocide survivor gets Royal invite
PUBLISHED: 12:39 23 June 2013 | UPDATED: 12:39 23 June 2013
A survivor of the Rwandan Genocide 20 years ago who vowed to tell her horrific story in a bid to raise awareness of persecution and intolerance was invited to the Queen's Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace.
Sophie Musabe Masereka from Upper Clapton was nominated to attend the special event by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust in of her extensive work helping the charity, for which the Queen is a patron.
Ms Musabe Masereka bravely told her story of how she escaped brutal gangs during the 1994 Genocide - during which over a million people were killed in just 100 days – in front of hundreds of dignitaries at the national HMD 2013 commemoration event in January.
“I heard gunshots, houses and people were being burnt, others were being thrown in the latrines alive, others being thrown in the rivers – tied up together,” she told them.
“Many pits had been dug near Tutsis’ homes before the genocide started – we had been told they were to be latrines, but once the killings began the pits were used for the bodies.”
She witnessed the slaying of her brother and her leg was slashed with a machete before she eventually sought refuge in the cathedral in the capital Kigali, and escaped abroad.
Ms Musabe Masereka said it was an honour to go to Buckingham Palace.
“It was such a lovely day and wonderful experience, everyone was dressed in beautiful colours, wearing hats and inside the palace I felt such a warm atmosphere,” she said.
“When Her Majesty and the royal family joined us, we were all facing them with smiles on our faces, they walked among people shaking their hands.”