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11.13.2010

Another Rwandan Story


Another in a series of stories that I collected in Rwanda in July.

I was a single young man, alone in the refugee camp in the Congo during The Trouble. The Interahamwe were mixed in with the refugees. I was friends with a man who looked Tutsi, but was not. An armed group of Rwandese came at evening and took that man away. They took him into the bush and handed him a shovel and told him to dig his own grave.

The man’s wife came to me distraught and asked me to help. I did not know what to do and I did not think that there was much hope for the man. But the wife was in such anguish that I went to the Congolese Police who ran the camp.  They were not too much interested, but I insisted that this was a good man, and that he was my friend and that I wanted to try and find him.

They asked me “Who has taken the man, and where have they taken him?”  I did not know. “What is it that you want us to do then?” they asked.

I convinced them to come with me to see the wife and see if she knew the names of the men who had taken her husband.
It was late in the evening when we found her, gathered with some women, grieving loudly for a husband she presumed was lost. She did not know any names, but carefully described the leader of the gang who took her husband. One of the Congolese Police said “I know that guy! - I know where he hides.” 

But it was very late and they did not want to go out into the bush. “He is surely dead.” they said to me. “Then let us at least get this poor woman a body to bury.” Said I. 

I convinced them to go out and take a look. We looked for a long time and finally came to a clearing. The killers were there. When they saw the police they fled. At first we saw no one else, then we saw the hole. And then we heard digging. And there at the bottom of a three meter hole, still digging at dawn, was the man. 

I called to him and he recognized my voice.
The man said, “My friend! I do not wish to die tonight.”
“Then come out of your grave and live!”
“Do you also not accept for me to die?”
“I do not accept it - it is not your day.”  

And they brought the man up and he lives even until now. 

After this I was a marked man in the camp and escaped back into Rwanda and back into the rest of my life.

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