Anne-Marie and Her Daughter Celestine

Butare, Rwanda

Anne-Marie and Celestine.

Anne-Marie and Celestine.


I went to a Catholic church. There was a group of militias there, but one of them who knew me advised me not to hide there because I had a wound that would easily identify me as Tutsi. He told me to go and hide in the houses near a place called Rango. He sent two other young men to kill me there. They hit me with machetes and clubs saying I shouldn’t die in the house because my blood will cause bad omens. They took me to the forest and raped me there.

After they raped me they called to another two boys, and one of them said, “This woman is sweet, you also need to enjoy.” After that they said, “This Tutsi woman is not getting satisfied, let us get a corn stem and sharpen it to a shape of a penis, that is what can satisfy her.” So they went to cut that piece and they put my legs apart and then they started pounding that stem of corn into my private parts. After that night, I couldn’t walk.

People from different villages were being collected to take refuge at a camp for internally displaced people. We stayed at the camp for three days. We started sensing trouble when soldiers came and began rounding people up. But they didn’t say anything until around noon, when they told all the men to go to this side and all the women to go to the other side.  hen the men went to the other side they started shooting the men. I ran towards a place north of where we were.

A local leader called a meeting saying, “People should go back to where they came from … girls and women can go back to their places of origin.” I started walking back, but little did I know that I was going to meet serious trouble. I went to a house to ask for water. They sent me away. As I was reaching the end of the road, I met the owner of the home. He looked at me with a lot of bitterness and cut me in the face with his machete. I ran, but I was feeling weak. I reached a place that I thought would protect me for the day because I didn’t want to walk in the day. You could hear people being killed with machetes, being hit with clubs, or being speared.

When the leader of the militia saw me he said, “These people must be killed because we killed all the others; if we leave them, they are going to report us when things don’t work out. Or they will be a bad omen.” And one of them asked, “Now, how do we kill these 30 people – there are too many?” Another man offered to take us to his land where he had already dug a grave. He said, “Let us take them and kill them from there. And then when they rot, they will be fertilizers for my farm, I will plant banana plantations after and they’ll be fertile.’

-Anne-Marie, mother of Celestine, 2006

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