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The Survivors

By on May 28, 2011 in Rwanda with No Comments


“With what weapon can we defeat the inyenzi once and for all? Only with machete. Let’s crush the cockroaches!”

– Hassan Ngeze, Kangura newspaper


Anne-Marie – 27

Immediately after hearing the news Hutu soldiers surrounded our home. We thought they just wanted money. My husband tried to get us a room at the Eden Lodge but the soldiers would not allow us to leave. When the killings began they came and took my husband away. Shortly after I could hear them singing that they had killed a ‘cockroach’ and I knew he was dead. One soldier came up to the house. I was sitting with my baby boy on my lap. He grabbed the child and threw him against the wall. He died from the impact. I ran to pick up my baby’s body, but the soldier threatened me and told me to lie down. Then he raped me.

When Zacharya, a colleague of my husband’s, heard that I was alive he came on a motorcycle to take me away. He had taken many houses from the Tutsis and he took us to one of them in Safi Cyumbati. There were three separate units in the house. In one, there was a girl, in another there were Interahamwe, and he lived in the third. He put me in the unit with the Interahamwe and left, telling the Chairman (head of the local administrative cell), “I would like to come back when you have cleared away all the rubbish” meaning he would like to return when they had killed me and my son. The Chairman demanded I give him money or else. I told him that I had some at the Post Office. I remained at the house for six days and was raped every night. At any time one of the Interahamwe wanted me, he took me – even in front of my son.

Then they left and another group of Interahamwe came. They took me to a home they had destroyed and the same thing happened. Later that night a third group came. They took me to a school where they had a meeting. They gave me a hoe and ordered me to dig my grave; they couldn’t be bothered to do it themselves. I was naked; they had already taken my sarong. I started pleading with them to shoot me with a gun, and not to kill me with a spiked club. They asked me if I knew the price of a bullet.

The leader asked why I hadn’t been killed yet. Because I was claiming to be a Hutu they would take me back to the Commune where my tribe was known. The leader said, if they found I was a Hutu they would kill my son. If they found I was a Tutsi they would kill both of us. As they were taking me back to the house someone went and told an old lady whom I had helped in the past that a poor naked Tutsi woman and her child were going to be killed. Later that night she stole me away to her house and worked hard to hide me.


Odette Mupenzi – 19

I was at home when the genocide started. When President Habyarimana’s plane crashed on April 6th, 1994, an annoucement was broadcast the following morning forbidding anyone to go out. So we stayed at home. A few hours later we started hearing cries from our neighbor’s house – it was as if they were being beaten.

Our house was close to the Josephite seminary school, so we spent the night there. The following morning we heard gunshots outside, and a few hours later the school was attacked. The attackers jumped the fence and came in screaming, “We know there are Inyenzi (‘cockroaches’, meaning Tutsi) here.”

The killers kept banging on the classroom door, but no one would open it. Eventually they said, “If you don’t open the door we’ll destroy it.” When my Dad heard this he told us to hide under the mattresses because people thought that a bullet couldn’t hurt you after going through a mattress. From my hiding place I could see two soldiers and some of our neighbors who had become Interahamwe. They were the ones who ordered my father to open the door.

The killers grabbed Dad as soon as he opened the door and started hacking him with machetes. When my Mum saw this happening she acted with great courage. She rushed to take the soldier’s gun, but he pushed her away. Then the Interahamwe hacked her with their machetes until she lay unconscious.

I was hiding under the mattress just below the window. Suddenly I heard the glass smash. I was in such a panic that I hadn’t heard the gunshots outside. As I raised my head to see what was happening, a soldier outside saw me and showered me with bullets. He hit me on my jaws, on my arms and chest. My injuries were terrible. I felt so weak that I lay down. I could hear other people near me praying, then suddenly it all went quiet. The other people were dead.

Finally, the Interahamwe came into the classroom to check if there were any survivors. I was breathing heavily but trying hard not to make a noise. They still saw me. They hacked me with their machetes – I still have the scars on my head. I must have fallen unconscious because I can’t remember what happened next. When I woke up, I found myself lying among dead bodies.



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