TITLE: Kwizera Means Hope
“All cockroaches step forward,” a voice barked the day the genocide arrived at my secondary school.
My heart dropped into my stomach. No one moved.
Still no one moved. We all knew what it meant. We had heard the news, on the radio and by word of mouth. We knew these boys in their torn and dirty clothing would kill any girl who stepped forward.
“You, Mzee,” the same boy said, jutting his chin toward our headmaster. “Make the filthy Batutsi show themselves.”
Another boy, in a shirt as red as the Rwandan soil, dragged the headmaster toward the line of us girls.
Would he do it? Would he denounce teenage girls who were guilty of nothing but an accident of birth? Girls he had taught and counseled for at least six months, if not almost six years.
Was my father, also a headmaster, faced with the same choice? Was my brother facing armed, angry men at university? Were my mother and younger siblings safe?
I felt sweat beading on my forehead and the back of my neck and under the waistband of my skirt. Please, God, let us escape this evil. Let me see my family again.
But I knew from the stories passed from village to village that little mercy was shown by the Hutu extremist militias known as the Interahamwe, “those who attack together”.