Times were good.

You drained marshes and cut down trees to make more land to farm for your growing numbers. But then productivity fell. A drought began. With a young family it was hard to survive. 

‘It will get worse when they are ready to marry,’ your neighbours said. ‘Look at us; we do not have enough land to share out, our children stay at home and complain.’ 

Parent and child, neighbour and friend, doctor and patient; everyone had reason to moan. 

On 6 April 1994, President Habyarimana was assassinated. Hutu radio screamed: ‘Kill the Tutsi cockroaches!’ 

You heard of terrible things; of travelling bands with machetes and people settling scores. ‘Go to Marumbi Technical School,’ your neighbours said, ‘You will be safe there.’ 

Grateful, you and your family joined the sixty five thousand already hiding in the building. The trap was set. They barricaded the doors and began savage rounds of butchery and rape. You watched your family die, Emmanuel Mugenzira, you fell yourself when the bullet hit. But when they left, you managed to run bleeding into the woods. 

The genocide killed eight hundred thousand people in just six weeks. Some people say, ‘You need war to bring numbers down so there’s enough land’. Others say, ‘Never again’. But nothing can touch your loss. 


Alex Harvie

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