Omar Ndizeye was ten years old when the genocide against the Tutsi that shook the world began in Rwanda in April 1994. He was formerly the Executive Secretary of AERG, and has recently published a book on his experiences during the genocide, called Life and Death in Nyamata.
His story starts with reflections on a happy childhood, before Omar goes on to share the painful memories of the shocking moments when his father, young brother and other members of his beloved family and community were slaughtered right before his eyes.
How do I need to begin telling you the story of Iwacu, the place where I was born and grew up? How does one describe life and survivors genocide in the same pages? Howe do you bring to life the unspeakable moments of witnessing the devils in the darkness? When I was writing this book, a friend asked me to recreate the sounds that echo the life I lost and the pain I lived through during the genocide against the Tutsi of Rwanda. The question is still, “How?” How is this possible? How do you recreate a memory of genocide? Whatever you may answer is valid because our memories from yesterday pave the way for how we view our surroundings today and tomorrow.
Although this story recounts my escape from the machetes, wooden clubs, grenades, sharpened tree trunks and other tools used as weapons by the Interahamwe Hutu militia, gendarmes, communal police and government soldiers sent to exterminate my people, I struggle to call it my testimony because this story is beyond me. It is about the memory of those killed in 1994 in Rwanda and the resilience of those who survived. It is a journey I share with you, a part of my life that I lost when most of my family perished in the dark and smoky church of Nyamata.
Life and Death in Nyamata is a memoir that brings the reader to an unimaginable place of fear and disbelief, when at any moment life could end. Yet Omar manages to tell his story with a sense of gratitude and joy at being alive.
Journey with Omar as he vividly describes the days preceding the genocide, his escape into the hills of Bugesera, and days of survival believing in the strength of the human spirit to live a life of hope beyond fear, pain and loss.