ERNEST My name is Ernest. In 1994, I was 46 years old and married; I lived in Byumba with my wife and children. The family of NYANGENZI Etienne rescued me during the genocide period. On 6th April 1994, I left my home and come to Kigali for reasons of employment. I arrived late in Kigali, so I decided to stay overnight at NYANGENZI’s house. He was my friend, especially my brother’s friend. I went to his office, he told me he was in hurry that I would meet him at his home. I went to his house, he received me as a friend. We ate and afterward I went to bed. Before sleeping, I was smoking when we heard a blast, because he lived near the airport we thought it was a plane crash. That it was. We heard people running, shootings and soldiers begun automatically to burn Tutsi’s house and to kill them. We stayed in the corridor of his house that night. In the morning, we heard the communiqué of the Minister of Defence ordering to all citizens to stay home. It rained that morning at 8:00. Two soldiers came to knock at the door but he refused to open it. They broke the window pane and insulted him. I told him to open and let me die as a hero. His ex-helpers denounced him because many Tutsis used to come to his house and also because his wife looked like a Tutsi. He opened up and there were two they had ordered to sit, they searched through the house, and threatened his wife because they thought she was a Tutsi. One of them asked for my ID card. After reading it , he told me they would kill all Tutsis because of the death of the president. I responded that if they were to exterminate all Tutsis because of that I could do nothing. They told NYANGENZI that they must take me, but he begged them not to and gave them money. They insisted he gave them a radio, they said others would kill NYANGENZI and me if they found me there again. After that, I decided to go but NYANGENZI refused, he insisted. I told him to let me go because I was Tutsi if they found me they would kill all of us, including his family. I told him you are Hutu, let me go to save your family, I did not want to let them kill all the family, I wanted to die alone. I went out, he followed me and he refused saying if we were to die, we would die together. He begged me to stay, so I did. NYANGENZI’s neighbour who was a soldier in the army knocked on the door. Again we refused again to open it but he identified himself. We opened it and he told us that he came from Bugesera where he was deployed and then decided to take his wife to her parent’s house because she was Tutsi. That morning, I went into hiding in his garage but in the afternoon, he said that I should not stay there, it was not good to stay alone in the garage and if they knocked at the door, I would return to the garage. I left the hiding place, we sat down to the table but in the evening, a communiqué called people to go the airport so that they could protect them. He advised me to stay in the house with his help because in our ID it was written TUTSI. They went there and we stayed. In the morning, he came from the airport saying that they would seek through houses because as they said all Tutsis had not yet been killed. I told him to hide me in the ceiling, I went up and in the evening, I came down to sleep. Five days later, he told me that they would check in the ceiling. I suggested going in a septic tank with 16 meters deep. He sent his children to spy on the neighbours in order to avoid them seeing what we were doing. He threw ladders so that I could get down but they were short, I decided to get down slowly until the level of ladders he gave me mattress and blanket I continued to go down but I breathed with difficulty. They used a cord to send me food, water and a box to relieve myself. I could not see; even until now, one eye cannot see clearly. I used fingers to know what they sent; I had stayed there for more than a month. In the daytime, I went up to the level of the ladder to take the numbness off and breathe, before going below where they gathered. It was in rain season, even if it was covered, water came down so I sat in water. One day, NYANGENZI came, took off the covers and called me to climb but I was very weak. I climbed up to the level of ladders; I remember I told him that I could not go up anymore that he could let me die here. He sent me a cord I tied myself the waist, and he tugged me up. When I reached the top I could not see. I looked like an animal, his children wept. He said that all his neighbours had fled. RPF soldiers were fighting with the government army in the neighbourhood. His children were preparing to go to their parent’s house in Butare. He had refused to go with them because of me, and he said that would be a cowardly act. We stayed there NYANGENZI, his helper and me. We stayed hidden in the house. He went to the roadblock to make believe that he acted with them so that he could not be suspect. He was diabetic they told him to sleep but not to go home in the night. He returned home in the morning blaming killers, I remember one day they gave him meat, he threw it away, saying that even his dog could not eat that meat because he said they had killed, plundered and slaughtered Tutsi’s cows. One week later, he came in saying that RPF soldiers were approaching and that he had to go so that one of us could survive. He said if one of us survives he can take care of both families. I begged to go with him but he said that I could not survive because there were many roadblocks and they checked ID cards. I understood it was clear. I told him to draw water for us and to close all doors. He had gone and that is last time I saw him. I now believe he is in the paradise. His helper was Tutsi but not easily recognizable; his boss had told her to present herself if somebody knocked at the door and to say she was alone. The helper felt ill, we had no food so we drank water until the RPF soldiers liberated us. I later learned that NYANGENZI died from diabetes on his journey but his family survived. That is how a family that I will never forget rescued me. I hope to meet NYANGENZI in heaven. My brother, who was NYANGENZI’s best friend, gave up drinking beer because he said beer was enjoyable only with him. Gacaca is important; it is confession and forgiveness. I am optimistic about unity and reconciliation; I am a founder of a unity and reconciliation club. I wrote a letter to the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission that killers must have spirit and fortitude to ask for to be pardoned and we can then forgive, that is how we will come at unity and reconciliation.

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