There were speakers on the radio, famous journalists. In hard low voices they talked about a war between the tribes. Everywhere you heard the people shouting and crying in panic. Then one of the voices on my radio told the names of those that should be killed. Rebels are advancing, he said urgently. We must kill the Hutu collaborators, before they kill for us. It follows a description of where to find their homes.
My cousin Mr Bambakou doesn't own a radio because of its cost. He came over to my house to listen for the names of our neighbors on the list. A lot of other people were scared and angry. There were a lot of tensions between us and the Tutsi even though we lived close together in the same village. The tribes are separate even when they are together. But now their strangeness burned us like a spark from a fire pit. A lot of people think that the Tutsi are better because they are richer, with better jobs. I ran to a shed where I keep a big knife that I use to cut snakes from banana trees when we cut down bushes to make open land. Then I ran with Mr. Bamabakou to another cousin's house.
Many people running between houses. Loud music broke from the radios next to angry speeches. The journalists keep repeating this very forcefully: war war, the Tutsi rebels entering our villages to kill our children and old men, and cut their arms and legs off to throw them into big piles. This other cousin told us that he had heard the name of a man on the radio. This man was Tutsi and lived not so far away. We had seen him sometimes on the street or at the market. We must go to this man's house at once and confront him.
We ran through the market yelling to other men about the plan. Some of them followed us. Soon we found a group that had surrounded a young Tutsi. He was yelling at us and very angry. Some boy ran up to him from behind and pushed him. The crowd moved together so that the Tutsi disappeared in between the tight bodies.
The neighbor who was Tutsi waited inside his house with a rifle. We shouted hey! we are here to talk to you, Tutsi! He raised his face over the window and waved his rifle to us. We started to throw rocks and curse him and his family. You are no better than a dog, Tutsi. You deserve no better than a dog who is sick from eating his own excrement. Hey Tutsi, go home and burn your mother's vagina.
After a while the Tutsi came out of his home. His face was black with anger. Go away, he stammered, because his tongue was slow from hating us. You should not insult my family in this way! One of my cousins ran to sneak into the house from behind. We laughed and shouted until my cousin jumped onto the Tutsi and wrestled the rifle away from him. We jumped onto their tangled bodies and tried to kick the Tutsi. He crawled in the dirt like a bug but we didn't allow him to stand up. We kicked at his arms and legs until he was tired and sat panting between our feet. Now we've put you in your place! we laughed.
My uncle and his daughter's husband continued to kick the Tutsi while I walked into his house. The sons of the Tutsi ran at us without speaking or yelling. They were little boys maybe ten or twelve wearing soccer shorts. My cousin who walked in front of me showed his machete to them and they turned around and escaped through a door in the back of the house. I didn't want to anything with them but my cousin chased after them, so I followed. I was worried that these boys would run to-the Tutsi rebels and tell them to come after us to take revenge. They ran crying and whistling the breath in their throats, slapping their flat feet against the hard dirt. Soon we caught them and knocked them onto the ground. My cousin brought his machete down across one boy's arm. The boy screamed with his eyes and mouth open wide. This horrible picture made me understand how it would be for the Tutsi to attack our families. We swung our machetes, hacking the boys into pieces, cutting off their fingers as they tried to hold the machetes away from their faces. Soon my cousin and I were covered with blood so that we would have looked almost the same as the boys, if, we had been lying in the dust next to them. Still the boys were not dead but cut so badly that there was nothing we could do but continue to cut them, hoping that they would die soon and slip into god's happy kingdom.
Our arms were tired but still the boys seemed to move and sigh. After a long time I stood breathless and staring at the hot clumped mass that our machetes had cut. My cousin grinned with his face painted wet. He yelled hoarsely one of the victory chants we use to celebrate at soccer games.
When we returned to the house of the Tutsi, the floor was covered with the dead bodies of children and grandparents. My uncle and a few other men from the village were raping the wife of the Tutsi. My uncle joked when he saw us. Look at this bitch, he snorted. I think she wants us to make her pregnant so that she can have a Hutu child. The other men stared at us and for a moment I was scared, but then I understood that we must be demons, with our bodies splashed in blood. I laughed and soon all the men laughed and slapped each other's palms. My uncle hit the swollen face of the woman as if to prove to us by punishing her that she was a bad person.
I left the house and one of my cousins followed me and placed his hand on my shoulder. Small children cautiously walked up to us with their mouths gaping open. One of them carried a radio. Turn that louder, I said. I wanted to hear the journalists tell us about the war against the Tutsi. A boy flipped the dial and flashy dance music poured out of the squeaky little plastic speakers.