This other day was another shocker of a day; a gut wrenching day. I was never ready for the scenes that I bore witness to on that day. A lot of people took refuge at the Saint Famille church in Kigali from the ensuing violence that had gotten out of hand. A natural human reaction seeking safety at a religious establishment was the way to go, well that was not the case my friend.
I made my way to the church as usual conducting my regular peace-keeping mission duty. The scenes I saw were horrific, there they were in the heart of New York in their designer fancy suits debating, vetoing and voting while the citizens were in pain; a disheartening moment my friend.
I parked my car at the back of the church. As I was making my way around to the entrance of the church, from about ten or so meters away from where I was standing, a man in a white robe and a black clerical shirt wearing the rosary was breathing heavily like a rabid dog. His eyes were bloodshot red as if he was in a trance of some sort.
Upon evaluating the situation, I noted that this man was a priest. He was grappling firmly the Kalashnikov, intended to kill a lady on church grounds, on holy grounds. I mean that was madness, this man was beside himself! I sprinted to the scene and stood in between him and the lady. She was standing petrified begging for her life and crying for her life. What was going through my mind was that this ‘priest’ was acting as judge, jury and executioner all at the same time.
While the lady was begging for mercy, I spread my arms wide open and I said, “Why do you want to kill this woman? You mustn’t kill her… What’s she done?” I had no weapon on me, I was just there standing and breathing calmly. He took a deep sigh and grunted like a boar. He uncorked the Kalashnikov and went his way murmuring like a pre-schooler who had been told to go and stand in the naughty-corner by the teacher.
We organised yet another mission to rescue another group of refugees to safety and boarded the UN trucks. We got to the designated location, loaded the refugees, many of whom were women and children. It was a sorry sight to see. Yet again I asked myself, “Where is the world?” I made sure that everybody was accounted for and settled.
We were ready to embark on the perilous journey. The plan was to collect as many bottles of whiskey, wine and beer I could get my hands on.” My colleagues laughed at me, one of them teased, “A Muslim now drinking? Surely the world is coming to an end,” little did they know the alcohol were tokens of appreciation. In a way, an investment to wave away unwanted attention from the rebels who were manning the checkpoints. A plan that worked efficiently as I passed a lot of checkpoints with ease.
Unfortunately, my tokens were finished, and I had nowhere I could hustle for more. I had to carry on with the journey with my precious cargo. We made our way up to the pinnacle of the road on about to descend the hill. A group of rebels stopped us, they had machetes, guns and all sorts of weapons. They stopped the convoy, then the air was filled with the smell of gunpowder.
I jumped off the truck. They started asking questions, “Where are you going with these people”
“Listen my friend, these are refugees I am taking them to safety beyond the front line, this is a UN convoy you cannot stop us, please let us go,” I responded.
It was a dire fragile situation that needed diplomacy. While I was negotiating with the rebel leader at the checkpoint, the rest of the rebels started pulling the refugees out of the trucks as if they were pulling out bags of potatoes.
I knew the situation was escalating rapidly and I was getting agitated. I did not want anyone one to die on my watch.
“You can’t kill these people… You can’t take them out at all… I refuse that,” I pleaded opening my arms and continued, “If you want them, you have to first kill me.” A moment of silence followed, then suddenly the checkpoint leader allowed us to pass. We got back into the trucks and we carried on with the journey until we reached the safer side of the city far away from the battlefront.
Two months into the mission, still they are debating, vetoing and voting in New York. While on the ground we are fighting to survive each day since the madness began.
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