Burundi is a mirror image or mutual echo chamber of Rwanda, where the repeated massacres have gone comparatively unnoticed in the world’s press. Indeed, many people who have informed themselves about Rwanda are probably unaware of the existence of Burundi.
In Rwanda, it is the Tutsi who fear violence from the Hutu; in Burundi, it is the other way round. (This is not to say that the massacring group is itself immune from being attacked – very far from it.) The terrible events in each country give a kind of rationalisation for the terrible events in the other. For example, in 1972, every Hutu in Burundi with a secondary education was killed, that is to say between 100,000 and 200,000 people. It would hardly be surprising if this preyed on the minds of the Hutus in Rwanda.
The subject of the book is a Burundian Tutsi, Deogratias, who escaped the genocidal mayhem of the two countries in 1994. He was a third-year medical student in Bujumbura when the massacres and reprisals started up again. He was saved on one occasion from murder by a Hutu