Moral Courage



Tour Diary


Tour Diary

Rutegama, Western Burundi
The day did not start well and proceeded badly.

The network of Telecel, the local wireless operator, was down in the rutega area. It was impossible to reach anyone on it. Both Gladys, our translator, and Selestien, our second driver, knew many people in the area and were staying in different places. It was proving difficult to locate them. We would go to one house only to discover that Gladys had moved in with other friends the previous evening. We would go to another home and learn that Selestien had already left to look for us at our hotel... Meanwhile, the drummers who were driving in from Bujumbura, were given incorrect directions. Tharcisse and I left in another car to try to intercept their minibus on the highway.

On the way we passed a monument to the Tutsi children massacred at the nearby Kimbimba boarding school. On 21 October 1993, following President Ndadaye's assassination, seventy Tutsi secondary school students were taken to a nearby gas station and burned alive. Their former Principal, Firmat Niyonkenguruka, was found responsible for their killing and executed. [106] This episode was eerily reminiscient of the genocide twentyone years earlier, when army units drove up to schools and removed scores of Hutu children for extermination. [107]

Eventually we all made it to Rutegama, a small village set among spectacular hills in Muramvya province. Pamphile Ndarugirire was one of the heroes who welcomed us. As we were late, we quickly set up and the drummers started. But alas, the performance was rudely interrupted. Before the first song was over a policeman approached the drummers and motioned for them to stop.

© Burundi Voices Project, 2006.