When a Hutu mob attacked the plant and tried to kill the Tutsi workers, Evariste stepped out and told them that if anyone should avenge the killing of the president it should be him.
|Gitega, Central Burundi
This morning we returned to the Mid-Land restaurant which, remarkably, managed to replenish its supplies overnight. The drummers were enjoying a hearty breakfast. I stood outside and noticed a large crowd converging around a lorry. I edged closer and saw two policemen guarding five shackled children. They could not have been older than fifteen. Although I was unable to establish why these children were detained, the Burundi government has been accused of imprisoning former child soldiers associated with the insurgent Forces Nationales de Libération [FLN].  This is in contravention of the UN Convention for the Rights of the Child. Soon, the lorry departed with its sorry cargo, and it was our turn to proceed to the performance grounds.
This time the setting was a large lawn outside Gitega's elegant colonial Appeals Court building. The event here was largely co-ordinated by Evariste Ndabaniwe, a commanding man in his forties. Evariste was the cousin of Hutu President Melchior Ndadaye whose assassination in October 1993 sparked the latest cycle in the ethnic conflict. At the time Evariste was working at the local brewery. When a Hutu mob attacked the plant and tried to kill the Tutsi workers, Evariste stepped out and told them that if anyone should avenge the killing of the president it should be him. He managed to hide his Tutsi colleagues in a safe place. Subsequently he became the target of a number of personal attacks and assassination attempts.
Evariste handed the microphone to Maman Nestor. A small bespectacled nun, she spoke softly and painfully. Nelson Nsabimana, one of the men she had saved, followed. Nelson's daughter, a prettly little girl in a pink dress played on the grass next to her mother.