"This text is tough (...) but it is also luminous as it shows how to preserve

the inner child when facing horror. It makes me think of Small Country by Gaël Faye." - France Bleu

With the support of AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL France

 

author: Pierre-François Kettler

ages: 12+

288 pages

 

 

I am innocent

  • The destiny of Jean, a heroic child, determined to live.

    April 1994, Rwanda.

    Jean has just celebrated his seventh birthday when he witnesses the massacre, by his neighbors and friends, of his family and all the Tutsis in his village. Determined to live, Jean uses his imagination as a safeguard against pain and madness.

    At first hidden in an attic by one of his friends, Jean is soon discovered and enslaved by one of the men who killed his family, before being taken for dead and loaded into a truck carrying the bodies of other Tutsis.

    Living among the dead, Jean is saved by a little girl, Espérance, who leads him to some Tutsis who have taken refuge in the swamps. Every evening, the two children meet again, but these moments of joy do not erase the fear renewed each day by the visit of the "cutters" who tirelessly seek to flush out the "swamp people". It becomes essential for Jean to leave and he takes the road to the capital.

    There, he crosses paths with Veneranda, who decides to pass him off as her son and leave the country with him. Arrested by armed militiamen on the road to Burundi, Veneranda and Jean owe their survival only to the arrival of soldiers from the French army, including Lieutenant Cellan.

    Cellan, who did his military service in Rwanda a few years earlier, takes the child and drives him to Zaire where a plane to France awaits him.

    Saved, Jean promises himself to live and turn his anger into words.