Monday, 5 October 2009


You were proud of your growing numbers. Times were good. You drained marshes and cut down trees to make more land to farm. But then productivity began to fall. And then a drought began. It was hard to survive on so little land with a growing family.

‘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.’ Father and child, neighbour and friend, doctor and patient; everyone had reason to moan.

The day President Habyarimana was assassinated, Hutu radio screamed: ‘Kill the Tutsi cockroaches!’

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

Grateful, you and your family joined the 65,000 already hiding. The trap was set. They barricaded the school and began savage rounds of butchery and rape. You watched your family die; fell yourself when the bullet hit. But when they left, you managed to run to the woods.

The Rwandan genocide killed 800,000 in just six weeks. Some people say ‘You need war to bring the numbers down so there’s enough land’. Others say, ‘Never again’. Neither brings you peace.