The tireless peace soldier

Captain Mbaye Diagne will tirelessly continue his solitary operations. At night, he leaves; in the morning, new refugees are found at the Amahoro stadium, protected at that time by the UN. One day, the captain is at the head of a convoy leaving from the Hôtel des Mille Collines to the airport of Kigali. A few hundreds of meters away, the vehicles are unfortunately stopped by a crowd of militiamen, warned by the Radio Télévisions Libre des Mille Collines1 of the departure of the convoy. Captain Diagne interposes himself between the trucks and the militia, waving his arms in the air. The militia starts dragging the people outside the vehicles. Mbaye shouts: “You can’t kill these people, they are under my responsibility. I won’t allow you to harm them, you will have to kill me first”. Mbaye and other Senegalese peacekeepers will manage to dissuade the militia from killing them, but they are outnumbered and have to turn around. Back at the hotel, Mbaye goes to see Odette, a lady doctor in the convoy who gives first aid to those wounded during the attack. She remembers: “He seemed dismayed. He said “They almost killed you, they really wanted to this time”. He had tears in his eyes, and was much more worried about us than himself2.

The days go by, the bodies accumulate on the side of the roads of Kigali, but Captain Diagne perseveres and tries, with the little means that he has, to save those that the international community left to their own means. He only listens to his human sense. Indeed, the attitude of Westerners and the lack of coordination with regards to the genocide shocks the Senegalese soldier. The French, Belgian or Italian troops organise safety operations, but only their expats are taken. One day, Ancille, a Rwandan woman working for a nongovernmental German organisation, asks to be enrolled on the list of an evacuation convoy ready to leave. Learning that the Rwandans are excluded from it, she bursts into tears when Mbaye Diagne comes closer. He can’t believe it when the young lady tells him that it’s an evacuation only for Europeans, by European soldiers. Unable to abandon her, the soldier drives Ancille to the Hôtel des Mille Collines, and hides her in his room. Like many others, Mbaye saved her.


1 The Radio Télévision Libre des Milles Collines (RTLM) incited the Tutsi genocide and the massacres of Hutu opponents that it qualified as cockroaches, to dehumanize them.
2 See the site of the BBC in English