News / Africa

Former Teacher Spent Years in Refugee Camps after Rwanda Genocide

Over half a million perished during the Rwandan genocide (VOA)
Over half a million perished during the Rwandan genocide (VOA)

Location

3, Rwanda
Mariama Diallo
The Rwandan genocide in 1994 killed nearly a million ethnic Tutsi and moderate Hutu -- and led to a mass exodus of mostly Hutu fearing reprisals into neighboring countries.

​Pierre-Claver Ndacyayisenga, his wife and three children were among the hundreds of thousands who fled Rwanda. In his recently published book “Dying to Live,” the author, a Hutu, writes about traveling thousands of kilometers on foot without food and water. The family was forced to cross dangerous rivers and hide in animal-infested jungles from rebels hunting them.

“Many people wondered how we survived for so long in that jungle of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and this is a story to tell people:  that you should never give up on your life,” he recounts.

The author said he spent five years hopping between refugee camps that stretched across the Democratic Republic of Congo; from Bukavu to Tingi Tingi, Ubundu, Obilo and other regions.

Dying To Livei
X
July 16, 2013 2:28 PM
He is a former history teacher whose life changed forever when he was forced to flee his native Rwanda with his wife and three children. What happened in the five years following the 1994 Rwandan genocide is a story of survival that author Pierre-Claver Ndacyayisenga recounts in his new book “Dying to Live.” He told his story to VOA’s Mariama Diallo during his recent visit to Washington.

In one of the most touching moments of the book, the author relates how he was nearly separated from his wife in a disagreement over which route to take. One would cross the path of former DRC President Laurent Desire Kabila and his rebels heading from Kisangani to Kinshasa to oust long-time strongman Mobutu Sese Seko. The other route, he said, would put them in the cross hairs of the Rwandan Patriotic Army, which had assumed power in Kigali.

Speaking in French, he said, “I told my wife 'I am taking the route through the forest.Better to be killed slowly by insects, reptiles and others rather than being massacred by rebels.' My wife answered 'how can we do that with the children?'  She responded that she would not follow me this time; she want to go through Kisangani.”

In a chilling account, he described how their son saved the day by convincing his mother to follow his father. He held back tears while recounting the story during our interview.

While those moments make the reader cry, other episodes in the book evoke humor.  Sometimes, the family commissioned the acting talents of their three-year old daughter Emerance as they passed checkpoints -- stops where they were often mistreated and robbed of all their money. So, they decided to stash everything they had in the cast the little girl wore over a broken arm.

“She was very little, so we told her that we’d leave her behind and directed her to start crying after we passed the checkpoint pretending that her parents left her behind by accident,” he said with a smile.

Ndacyayisenga said the distraction worked, and check point guards seemed more interested in reuniting her with her family than in checking her cast. 

He describes the lesson he wants people to take away from the book.

“What we lived through during this ordeal happened because of previous events, and I am talking about endless ethnic conflicts; basically, I want people to understand that evil breeds evil. When someone does something bad today, someone else will eventually pay for it later. Let’s respect human beings.”

You May Like

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land In French Port

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching 'Fortress Europe' More

Video Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

New Hints That Dark Matter Exists

New evidence from International Space Station hints at existence of dark matter and dark energy More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Omodo Tim from: Capetown
July 17, 2013 5:28 AM
Funny, he learned respective others after what he went through. I guess he laughed when his Tutsi neighbors and friends were hacked to death. Why of all people who remained/returned to Rwanda did he decide to venture into the forest for years? What did imagine had happened to his relatives who were comfortably living in Rwanda? He needs psychological support. At least now he knows better; let him "respect human beings." You may run, you may hide but murder catches up you.

In Response

by: JulieM from: Canada
July 22, 2013 2:57 PM
Your comment doesn't make sense. It is explained that he was a simple bystander at the time of the events. Yes, he is Hutu but that does not make him evil. Moreover, nowhere does he mention partaking in the horrible events of 1994. I would strongly encourage you to read the book before making harsh and unsupported statements.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid