In August 1993, Clemence Nyirabanze, now 56 from Rambura sector, Nyabihu district went to see a Doctor for consultations and she was informed that she was pregnant.
Little did she know that she would go through struggle she had never experienced while giving birth to her previous 5 children.
Before New years of the next year, she started seeing signs that her baby “was not welcome in the world.”
The then teacher of primary school, Nyirabanze went to the market in Gasiza Centre and met a man she only remembers as Munanu.
“He shouted; look at her rock-like teeth! And you mean you will give birth to a live child you cockroach?” Nyirabanze recalls with tears swelling in her eyes.
Munanu run after the mother who would only be saved by a concerned passer-by.
“From that very day, my husband prohibited me from going to the market again to avoid any further incidence,” Nyirabanze told KT Press.
April 4th, Nyirabanze went back to the hospital. She was expecting a baby girl, and she was given April 10th as the due date.
However, she did not have any idea how the child would come to the world. “I did not have any opportunity to go out and shop for her since I was scared,” she said.
On morning of April 7th Nyirabanze heard gunshots at the Rambura Catholic Parish and she later on learnt, that Interahamwe had killed the three Tutsi priests at the parish.
She was supposed to be the next target.
“A neighbor came to warn me that the same Interahamwe who killed the priests were searching for me, I then rushed to my father-in-law to hide, expecting to be safe in his home because he was Hutu,” she narrates.
Interahamwe kept searching for the Nyirabanze, simply because of a nickname that they had given her, ‘Kanjogera’. Kanjogera was a queen mother in ancient Rwanda whom, legend says was ‘very tough and merciles.’
They had given her that name “Simply because I have long teeth. I don’t know whether that is also a sin.”
For this, she was among the ‘most wanted’ amongst the Tutsi of Rambura.
At 11am, Interahamwe had reached Nyirabanze’s house, and they compelled the husband to bring his wife, but he told them he did not know where she was.
They searched everywhere and when they failed, the next step was to go find out from the father-in-law.
“I hatched a plan to go to the hospital and wait until delivery, because I thought no killer can enter a hospital,” she said.
I will shoot you if you deliver
Nyirabanze rushed to Rambura health centre but she was shocked to find that a health facility itself could also be affected.
She was allowed to access the health centre, but none seemed to care about her case.
When the Medical Director of Rambura health centre, a one Dr. Felicien Ngaboyisonga, arrived, they presented to him the case of Nyirabanze who was lying on a mat inside the hospital. She says she was shocked the doctor’s behavior.
“Instead of helping me, the Dosctor drew out a pistol and pointed at me and said; I offer medical services to people, not to cockroaches,” she reminisces.
The midwives who were assisting the doctor vanished into thin air because they did not know what to say.
A week later, it was Nyirabanze’s day to deliver, and doctor Ngaboyisonga was reminded about her case.
He went to check on her, and, shockingly, he was accompanied by Munanu, the same Interahamwe who had hunted her three months earlier.
Instead of helping her to deliver, the doctor brought pointed the pistol to her again and said: “Stay there, your time to die will come,” she remembers.
“I had nothing to do because I was not strong enough to escape. I chose to just wait for my turn to die.”
She narrates that the doctor left her screaming. She went into labor with no one caring about her because the doctor had instructed them not to help.
Nyirabanze says she was helped by the night guard.
“The guard had midwifery training. He went out, brought some traditional medicine and helped me to deliver miraculously,” she said.
When the doctor came back the following morning, Nyirabanze was enjoying her baby and he told her with mockery: “Oh! You have delivered? Good.”
The next puzzle or Nyirabanze was to leave the hospital, but, even this was not easy.
“I asked the doctor to give the medical bill and discharge me, but the answer he gave me was shocking. He referred to my potential killer Munanu and said; pay that man,” she said.
She was obliged to bargain the medical bill with Munanu.
“If you want to leave this place safely, pay Rwf40, 000,” Munanu told her.
The woman asked her husband to raise the funds, which he did, but Nyirabanze would need to wait for three more days to be discharged.
“They would bring me food and Munanu would snatch it from me and eat everything,” she said.
On the third day, she escaped from the hospital and when Munanu and the doctor came to execute their plan to kill her, they couldn’t find her.
They searched for her, but she kept eluding them and hiding among the neighbors until the Genocide was stopped.
Daughter Turns 24, Wants to Become Magistrate
Despite all the struggles, Nyirabanze and husband gave their baby girl a name and called her Mizero Alice.
“When I was at hospital, my husband would always kneel before the statue of Virgin Mary at Rambura Parish to pledge that he had faith that the child and the mother would be fine. That’s why he called her Mizero (faith).”
Mizero, now lives in Kigali and has completed secondary education in Maths, Physics and Chemistry (MPC). She obtained a scholarship at University of Rwanda for September 2018.
I will not pursue Sciences. I want to study Law because my big dream is to be a judge,” she told KT Press.
Asked whether her dream is motivated by the need to offer justice which was lacking when she was born?
“I just want to contribute to justice. Plus, judges are respectful people,” she said.
Meanwhile, Mizero said she has left behind the pain behind her birth.
“We meet in associations of survivors and when you listen to testimonies, you feel like there are others who suffered more than you,” she said.
Mizero’s mother is proud of her daughter whom she said, is calm, does not react when you do evil to her and is academically bright.
Meanwhile, Dr. Ngaboyisonga is said to have escaped the long arm of justice and is suspected to be living in Uganda.