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

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid