TITLE: Kwizera Means Hope
GENRE: YA Fiction
“There’s no more money for school fees,” my mother said, standing in our backyard kitchen of packed dirt and a circle of stones for the fire. Arms crossed over her thin chest, she swayed my baby brother gently as he slept on her back.
I continued to mix the manioc flour with water and said nothing. The sound of the wooden spoon beating the manioc into paste normally soothed me, but not this time. I had been dreading those words ever since my older brother went away.
“Since your father passed and Innocent left, I’m the only one with a job,” she continued, voice as calm as ever.
Hearing her mention my father reminded me of her quiet pain after he died, the shocked faces of my little sisters, and my eyes stung by tears for days on end. I remembered his racking cough and the agony in his eyes. A sharp pain stabbed into my chest. When my brother left a few months ago we were numb, from four years of war and everything that had happened after, including the genocide, the run from our homes to the camps for internally displaced people, the fear of reprisals, and my father’s death.
“Someone has to join me at the plantation,” Mama said, breaking into my melancholy. “Then we’ll have more money for food and school.”
I swallowed hard. I knew what was coming next.