The piercing period of remembrance is here and we must agonise and go there. There where we recall those horrid hundred days. Where, but for the singular sacrifice of our gallants, this united family of Rwandans would have hurtled into the abyss. The Genocide against the Tutsi was like no other genocide. May “Never Again” be a reality! A genocide where a Rwandan killed a Rwandan; a neighbour; a neighbour; a cleric, fellow clerics as well as their flock. Yet that was not ghastly enough. A father or mother killed daughters, sons; a husband, a wife; a wife, a husband. All of Hell’s demons paled in comparison to these brutes totally gone otherworldly. They were an altogether other kind of evil. Mere killing was a kind act; they were capable of more. They went about their act in the basest, the filthiest, the dastardliest, the most horrifying, the most cold-blooded and the most unimaginable way. Slaughter with a bullet or any summary killing was noble and could only be afforded by a bribe. A display of extreme folly because, on a dead body, wasn’t everything theirs? Didn’t they cut off Achilles tendons, arms at elbows, didn’t they half-severe necks and leave victims at the mercy of vultures, dogs, ants, any flesh-eater? They gang-raped, disembowelled pregnant women, smashed babies’ heads against walls, buried victims up to their necks to be beak-picked by vultures, arrrrrrh… I can’t breathe. On returning from exile end-1994, what I saw or heard will haunt me to my grave. I’ve quoted the cases umpteen times but I’ll not stop, so traumatised have they rendered me. The young girl in Ntarama Church, thirty-two km south of Kigali, a church that’s been turned into a genocide memorial. After all the hounded preys had gathered in the church, Interahamwe set upon them with machetes, hoes, pick-axes, nail-studded knobkerries, spears, sharpened sticks, rocks, anything. Then killer soldiers sprayed them with bullets, to leave none breathing. Even then, from out and through windows, they lobbied in grenades to entomb everybody in the church. Then they went in with clubs to supervise and check their handiwork. Misery of miseries, under all the bloodied dead bodies, they found one young girl still breathing. The maniacal mob carried her near-lifeless body to the bush behind the church and gang-raped her unconscious, after which the last of the fiends knocked her head with a club and left her for dead. A day after, when a platoon of RPA liberators discovered her, she was barely conscious. But their mission was far from over as there were other victims to rescue. All they could do was to gingerly carry her to a group of survivors who’d been housed near a health centre. There, those who could, nursed her together with others in different degrees of shatter-wounded lives. In the end, she regained a semblance of health only to be informed that she was pregnant from the gang-raping. The abomination of an Interahamwe womb, none could bear. When she insisted she could not tolerate aborting a life from her own flesh, she was disowned, to roam the land. Poor kid, it was not until the new RPF government found accommodation for equally stranded survivors that she settled with others with similar or worse – yes, worse! – experiences. Then there was the case of a young girl in Kamarampaka Stadium in Cyangugu (Rusizi), to the south-west. Here all the targeted had been grouped ostensibly for their ‘protection’. As with the rest of the western axis, Cyangugu was under the ‘protection’ of what then-French President Mitterrand called a ‘humanitarian’ Opération Turquoise. Yet after a French soldier had pitched a tent near the stadium, he asked for a girl to ‘keep him company’ and the unfortunate young girl was picked to look to the soldier’s convenience. After weeks of this ‘convenience’ when the girl saw a chance to escape, she could not walk. She crawled to the nearest main path where, late in the evening, an old woman happened by her. Luckily too, the kind old woman got a young cyclist riding by to put her on the bicycle and the duo pushed her to the old woman’s hovel. The mama treated her on herbs as best she could. Note that in that ‘protected’ stadium, the hapless kid of that time may be the only survivor. Anyway, today those young victims of repeated rape are aged zombie-like women who live in homes for fellow survivors. Their blank stares show they know not whether they are in this world. Another of the most horrifying sights I can agonise to recount involved a mother with her baby who’d undergone unmentionable abuse before their necks were severed. With her bended knees stuck in the air and a jagged piece of wood sunk between them, it was not a sight to see. I immediately averted my teary eyes as, for a whole hour, my European guest, a Michela Wrong of a woman, took zoomed angles of every detail with her camera. My, my! We live among ogres! Tears were still running down my face when the driver and I dropped her at her Kigali hotel.