Blood for the People, Excerpt from Sojourner’s Dream By Angeline Bandon-Bibum
Blood For the People
Felix remembered the schoolmaster, a tall, thin, good-looking man in his thirties, who was always neatly dressed in a gray suit and white shirt. The suit was always clean and neat. The schoolmaster’s wife was a silent young woman with a svelte figure, always prettily dressed, thought Felix. He had heard that she was one of the King’s daughter’s, but Rwanda had no king anymore. Felix’s sons, Alphonso and Charles, attended this school, but today, they would be spared the fate of their classmates. Felix’s comrades said that they were doing their part for the “Hutu Revolution,” and Felix was called upon to participate in the bloody activities. A schoolhouse surrounded by palm trees was set on fire. The palm trees, luscious in their greenness, were also ablaze in an orange and yellow conflagration. Screaming young students could be heard in the area surrounding the compound school. When the fire was initially set, the schoolmaster had attempted to guide his students out of the building. However, he and his students were beaten by the crowd and forced back into the schoolhouse. Screams of agony could be heard from within the building. The schoolmaster was inside with his students, burning alive. As flames consumed the building, Felix thought to himself. His father and grandfather had worked for an influential Tutsi family. It seemed to Felix that the Muzungu preferred Tutsi because of their long noses and narrow faces. Many marveled at the distinct height that some of the Tutsi reached. No one can deny the beauty and grace of many of their women. Felix remembered that he had fallen in love with a Tutsi girl, who refused to acknowledge his existence. The young woman was a bronze dream, tall, slim, and graceful. She wasn’t a member of a royal family, but she sure behaved as though she were. They all think they’re royal, Felix thought. The Hutus can be like royalty, too. Hutus are not just servants and lackeys for Tutsis and Muzungu. Standing with a group of men who stood around the burning school, Felix saw two adolescent boys run out of the school; their clothes aflame, both screaming wildly. A man next Felix laughed at the boys as the fire consumed them. Felix swallowed hard. He suppressed his first instinct, to assist the unfortunate boys. Struggling to mask his sympathy for them, he bit his bottom lip. His own little sons were standing next to him. The boys looked shocked. Smoke rose from the burning school, rising into his nostrils. The best from the flames burned his face. He could do nothing about it. His comrades would call him a traitor if he showed mercy. The mob around him was chanting at the burning the school. Felix had plans to rise up through the ranks of this murderous rabble and become the town burgomaster. Felix believed that he had to play the part of the revolutionary to attain that goal.