Moral Courage



Tour Diary


"We then heard the people outside arguing what was the best way to burn the house with kerosene."
Valérie Mpawenimana and Gaudence Nikuze (Continued.)

I told my children to remain in the house and we closed all the doors and windows. The stone throwers wanted to break down the door and get to us. They continued quarrelling:

"Let's kill the children and leave their mother alone."

"We have lived in harmony with them," somebody said, "Why kill them now? Jean Marie was the first to install a well in this neighbourhood. He and his family did nothing wrong. Why do you want to kill his children?"

"All Tutsi children must die."

Others felt that we should not be killed while my husband was not at home. They said that they should go, find my husband and kill him first.

Valérie: It was around 8:30PM. Gaudence's husband, Jean Marie, was coming from work. He stopped by our house before going home. As we were talking, I heard people shouting. I asked him, "Did you hear that?" He said not. I went out and I saw many people armed with clubs, bows and arrows and spears.

They were standing by Jean Marie's house. They were not sure if he was inside or not. They saw me and asked, "Did you see Jean Marie arrive?" "He is not yet here yet," I answered. "Usually at this time he is in Kamenge drinking beer." I got back. As he was within my fence, I told him to come and hide inside my house.

Gaudence: I did not know that Jean Marie was hiding with her at the time.

Then we heard the people outside arguing what was the best way to burn the house with kerosene. The children were terrified and told me that they are not going to remain in the house. There was no point to die in the house, it would be better to run away. "If you go outside, they will kill you there," I told them. "Better to stay here and die together." They refused. While the killers were still arguing, three of the children opened the door and ran away.

© Burundi Voices Project, 2006.