Albert’s 14Days of Ordeal in April 1994.

I was Born in the beautiful region of the north of Rwanda, very touristy and natural. Home in the whole world of Gorillas and very many mountains.
My lovely family of father, mother and 6 children , Christian catholic, I grew up and lived there Unfortunately it was the place of the most powerful, cruel and extremists Hutu.
Since 1959 they started to kill Tutsi, those who were not killed were forced to go to exile in neighboring countries like Uganda where mum's family went and Congo where my dad's family went. My aunt went to Burundi and we didn't see her or know her. My dad came back with a priest who loved him and took him for studies, he then got married after finishing his teaching career.
We lived in that atmosphere of killing and hatred, we grew up in Rwandan Apartheid. All Tutsis had the nick names of Cockroaches (Inyenzi) or snakes (Inzoka Butugu).
You couldn't get any access to proper schooling or jobs or military service, this made many Tutsi to go to study in neighboring countries where they could have easy access to those schools more than the Rwandan school. My elder sister and I.were supported by some relatives who were already in exile in the Gongo.
The killings went on from 1959, 1966, 1967 and 1972 which year was to me the semi final of killing, in that year I was little, I saw Mum 's cousins and other relatives coming from Kibuye region which was our district of origin and we went the next morning in refuge in Goma (Congo:ex-Zaire).
Then came the final of 1994 genocide, the real killing, the big one, leave that of 1959 as a practice. It was just like that:
On the good evening of 6th of April 1994, after finishing my job at 5.00 pm, I went as usual to share with my friends the beer which is part of our culture to have a chart around the table talking about every thing.
That evening was so wonderful, with beer and barbecue, we were talking in big percentage about politics, every one was waiting for the final signature of peace accord in Arusha Tanzania between RPF then rebels and Habyalimana government, but things were not good, People were killed starting with politicians who were in opposition.
Meetings of campaign were taking place in the whole country and as people were seeing it was a bad sign of something big which was to happen. Very serious was the anti-Tutsi campaign of Habyalimana 's party which was also in power and had given birth to the Interahamwe, militia, supported, trained and equipped by the army through the government.
We separated from each other to rendez-vous to meet the next day and appoint who will buy what.
I went to bed tired, after while I got a call from a woman who 's name was Christine Bamurange ,she was married there with her 3 kids. We were born in the same area, she was like my sister, She rang and told me that" Albert are you still in the bed? Don't you know that we will die in few minutes, Habyalimana has died in plane crash and things are not good, get up so that you won't be killed in the bed.
I woke up , I went to my neighbors with whom we were sharing the apartment, they were all sleeping. I told them the same story and we were confused with what will happen, and we started to think what to do, We put on double pants, and we got out of the compound and tried to contact as soon as possible other Tutsis who were close to us in our neighborhood.
We planed to build a self defense but in vain.
The Interahamwe were very well prepared, equipped by the Habyalimana 's regime we couldn't combat them.
As the radio was announcing the death of Habyalimana followed by classic musical and the communiqué to tell people to stay in their home and no movements, no shops and markets are allowed.
We had in the morning, the opportunity to go to shops with others because every one was still confused and disoriented includes those Hutu who were not aware of what plan was going on.
After shopping we came back but people were starting to separate themselves, Tutsi on one hand and Hutu on another, we started to speculate on our next fate. From where we were, we started to see smoke rising every where and people told us that was in another commune called Sake which has started already to kill Tutsi and burn their houses.
We had very little time to plan , we didn't know where people came from with uniforms of Habyalimana's party and hats with whistles (Amafilimbi) armed very well, singing and dancing a song they used to sing in campaign that" Tuzazitsemba" which means " we will exterminate them".
They attacked a Tutsi family ,a neighbor, telling that he has to die the first because he was a good spy of Inyenzi (Cockroaches). I can't forget how that family were attacked and killed, they were parents with 3 kids, that act was like a starter, they looted houses and shops.
That gave us the whole picture of the situation, of how things were going to happen to us, of how those Militias were very well equipped and organized, with some Jericans of petrol to burn houses, we saw really how the government was behind those killings because the army and police were pretending patrolling there, just to cover those Interahamwe.
We believed that it will be the real APOCALYPSE of Tutsi as stated by one off Habyarimana's officer and his close relative called Bagosora, who I remember he said" that it will be an apocalyptic period of TUTSI". This also reminded every Tutsi the speech of Habyarimana before he died, saying that he will revenge his people against Tutsi. The speeches of that time of campaign were telling the truth, some off them were showing the reality of what would happen. There is a politician who said that "IF INYENZI CONTINUE THEIR ATTACK, WE WILL NOT GO OUT OF RWANDA'S BORDER TO FIND ENEMIES" this meant that they will start to find the Tutsi who were in the country.
We were hiding at that time in ceiling of a big shop which was already looted, nothing was inside, doors and windows broken and taken.
After seeing that horrible killing of our neighbor, we started to think what to do, an idea came up to go to a family which was mixed blood, they had young boys at that time in the same age.
We went there but the big problem was that there was a big number of Tutsi hiding there. It was the morning on 8th of April 1994, on the 9th night, they decided to reduce the number of those Tutsi, among them. That meant me and my neighbors with whom we were hiding together in the ceiling, they escorted us up to our previous hide.
We jumped again into it, the killing and hunting continued, the women killed and raped, was terrible screaming and yelling outside.
In that ceiling we didn't have any food or water, the heat was too high, that didn't worry us much, what was our concern was to be killed with machetes, we were praying for to be killed at least by guns, which also meant we should pay for it so that we can't suffer much.
The day I can't forget in my journey of Calvary is the 18th of April 1994, when I became brave and went down from the ceiling to fetch water just to save every one in ceiling, I succeeded to fetch that water but in few minutes before I jumped again up, I heard people coming to where I was. I couldn't jump because to have tried to do so, was very dangerous for me and whole group which was with me,
I changed my mind and went hiding in what was my apartment, I found inside my carport which wasn't looted because it was huge, I went hide behind it, after while I heard a voice of a kid who was 9 years old, checking every thing, ripping our photos and saying that this is Philbert and I, and that wee are still alive because they didn't see their bodies. He stayed there, unfortunately he didn't leave there, he came towards where I was. When I saw him coming I tried to push that big carport towards him and he ran away saying loudly that he has seen a real Cockroach most hunted and wanted, and calling others to come and kill me. He recognized me but when he went out, I had an opportunity to escape from there. They ran after me, yelling.
I didn't know where I got strength to jump through the big broken window which was about 2 to 3 meters high. I got down safely and ran, they followed me and missed the way I passed because it was extremely dark and was around 6h30 evening.
The Interahamwe at that time were not operating much during the nights, they were busy in planning others attacks and sharing what they had looted, that was my chance to survive on that day, I went hiding in plantation of bananas. After calming down myself, I entered in the compound of a family who were not far from where I lived and knocked their door, they asked me my name and I introduced myself and they recognized me. They opened the door and took me in their room. The father went to check if there is any suspicious movement and came back. They asked me where I was hiding, I told them whole story and how I got there. They put me in the hole where people usually bury bananas so that they become mature for producing the local beer. They covered me with every thing they could get around, like leaves of bananas, I couldn't breathe.
After while their mum came to check and got me out of that hole where I was buried. I was full off dust and ants in my ears and eyes, she took me in shower with a bucket. I bathed, but the water was not enough to compare to how I was dirty, that was less of a problem because I didn't have any strength because it was for long time without eating or drinking, I felt dizzy.
That family told me that if they hide me, was very dangerous for them, their daughters were hunted, and there was no way to give me the refuge. They told me to go back where I was because they were already at great risk, Because I was being searched for, if I were found with them it would be so much worse for them. They told me to go back where I was before and assured me that they will try to check on me and give me some food and drink, I couldn't argue. I accepted and they escorted me up to where I had been hiding in my ceiling.
It was late night when I arrived there. I tried to call my fellows up the ceiling, no one was there and I felt really sorry for them, I felt guilty, I was asking myself that if I hadn’t tried to come down for fetching water, every one may have survived. I spent 20 minutes alone in the darkness. I continued to call. I heard a little voice answering and asking me if it was me and that voice was that of my house boy. He told me to jump up in ceiling where he was and he told me that they thought I was already dead. He told me that if we don't leave that ceiling, we will be killed the following morning because they knew that there is still Inyenzi in that compound, because they had found me there.
We spent our time in deciding what to do. We decided to go to the Catholic parish to die with others, the distance between the parish and where we were hiding was about 4 kilometers. We came down from that ceiling and started our bitter journey.
We spent almost 5 hours in avoiding the patrols and barricades of INTERAHAMWE to reach the place where we were going to, it was almost early morning,\when we were close.
We failed to cross the road because it was exposed. We chose another way which brought us to a friend’s house. We knocked on his door and we didn't see any one. Because the friend looked like Tutsi, he was also mixed blood ,we thought that he was already killed.
We went hiding in his toilet. We didn't know what to do other than waiting for our next fate, it was around 10.00 AM We saw through the small window a half brother of that man we were looking for coming for fetching water. We couldn't speak to him, every one was involved in the killings. After fetching water, he wanted to go to the toilet We tried to lock up it but he was forcing We decided to open the door and let him do what he wants. He recognized me, I asked him if he wanted to kill us, he replied no. He asked us to stay there as he went to find others to help us and protect us. We couldn't believe, we thought that he was going to call others to kill us, we stayed there as we didn't have any other option. Just only to stay on one place and wait for our last day.
In a few minutes he came back with his 2 elder brothers, armed with very kind off arms, machetes, spears and arrows. we stayed quiets and they opened another room near that toilet and told us to come in and sat down. They opened a plastic bag they had, inside there were sweet potatoes, at first we couldn't eat them our teeth were sore because of long time without eating, secondary, we were thinking only about the death.
We asked them to kill us as soon as possible before another big group came and kill us badly, They told us that they can't kill brother's friend We asked them to escort us up to the parish where we needed to die with others. They accepted our request and one went before us for lightening the way, after some meters, the one who was like a scout came back in running and told us to take cover because there is a big group of Interahamwe coming down where we were. We took cover near the Bishop's house of retirement. Those boys stayed there pretending that they were on the road block, I can remember they asked them like this "Nta tundi Tunyenzi mwabonye sha?" means You didn't see any others Cockroach? They answered no.
They passed and gave some instructions to those boys. After while they came to us so that we can continue our dark journey so we got up and continued. It was not many meters to reach the parish. We crossed the road, lucky we didn't meet any obstacles, they lifted us up the fence and throw us inside, lucky also we didn't hurt ourselves.
Reaching there, we didn't found one single male, there was only some old women and girls, I met a woman who's son was in the ceiling with me when I got out for fetching water. She told me to go away because the Interahamwe had told them to do not to keep any male. Otherwise they will cancel their forgiveness. She told me to go away from her because she didn't want to see my blood poured in front of her.
I went immediately where I didn't know, what I can remember is that I entered in the church which was totally empty apart from some bodies lying on floor.
At that time we were hearing the sound of heavy guns, it was raining which made a bit like a truce. A few Interahamwe were still around patrolling, others knew that the rebels were progressing. In few minutes I heard people outside saying that we are now saved, get out wherever you are hiding, get out please we are saved now.
When I checked on what they were saying, I saw the military uniform which was different to the government soldiers. I went out and met them on the main road where every one was assembled.
The rebels took us to the general Hospital of Rwamagana where every survivor was supposed to meet others.
It was a great reunion, there was tears and pleasure, there was trauma and bereavement, there was every kind of sadness and bitterness.
The rebels continued their battle for freeing the country and save those survivors who couldn't believe that such time could happen to them. They took us to a safe place at Gahini which was freed before they arrived to us even though it had been slaughtered for long time before they reached there.
Life in Gahini camp wasn't easy, we started a new life. Some had opportunity to mourn their relatives, others didn't know what happened to their loved ones or relatives. There wasn't any food or any charitable organization. We could eat fresh bananas, the most important thing, was to survive.
The Hospital was full off people wounded or chopped by machetes, people half dead, it was terrible, the smell of dead people every where, bodies lying down in decomposition, no clean water because the Muhazi lake was full off bodies. I can't have a word of how I can describe the slaughter I have seen in my country, it's just unbelievable, until now I can't imagine what I have seen, today it's like dreams, I don’t miss Nightmare always when I sleep .
I can't finish without having any word of how people in Rwamagana survived, for my point off view, they didn't survive because they knew how to escape or other techniques, they only survived because off 3 major reasons:
1.Rwamagana was populated by many Tutsi and a big number off Hutu were in opposition who were against Habyalimana regime, they wanted a change ,because also they were disadvantaged. This delaying the killings, it took a long time to convince them to kill. That helped many Tutsi to have time to hide themselves.
2.Rwamagana was historically commercial city, Hutu or Interahamwe took long time to loot those shops.
3.The last reason was that Inkotanyi (those rebels) were not far from Rwamagana so they freed quickly that city, unfortunately its peripheries was already slaughtered before liberation.

Finally, I thank God for what he has done to me and those who survived in my family, I take this good opportunity to remember all my relatives and loved ones who perished in that barbarian act.
MAY THEIR SOUL REST IN PEACE, for those who died in my family, in particular my dad who has been killed like a hero. He was spoiled by every one in my family, I am sure, even now those who killed him are still regretting it, but there is not any excuse to kill some one, God himself controls life.