I was wondering…….If by a Simple Twist of Fate,
I was her instead of me.
And I was born to drug addicted parents,
Not by choice, you understand, none of us have a say in our birth.
A Simple Twist of Fate
And I was wondering, what my life would be like, if by
that Simple Twist of Fate
I survived that first year or two, or even three.
Years, of neglect;
nappies not changed,
And even more rare, moments of affection.
I was wondering if I was her instead of me
By that Simple Twist of Fate.
Would I have survived having my body sold ‘on the street’
By my parents to feed their addiction.
I was wondering if I was her instead of me,
Would I too have drowned my pain in the only escape
I knew – the same one they used to drown their demons.
By that Simple Twist of Fate if I was her instead of me.
Would I have her strength, feel her pain, know her fear,
Sense her isolation as she crawls through her adolescence,
Not free of her childhood and yet with no childhood,
With no ground beneath her feet,
With no one there for her
With everyone there to take from her;
From her body, from her soul.
A Simple Twist of Fate puts her and not me
That fate of birth;
That fate of opportunity;
That fate of nurturing;
That fate of belief;
That fate of security.
That fate of birth
And if I was her instead of me, I was just wondering, would I harden my soul against the world as I sat for seven years, contemplating the Simple Twist of Fate and faced my
I was just wondering, if I was her instead of me,
would I emerge bitter and fuelled with anger or would I, if I were her instead of me,
emerge like her, with hope despite the pain or rejection by her family ,
with thoughts to a future in spite of her past,
with humility and wisdom despite no ‘schooling’
I was just wondering, if,
by a Simple Twist of Fate
I was her instead of me, if I could now,
Speak of the pain of the past
Speak of the rejection of the present
Speak of the hope for the future
As my friend does.
My friend, who instead of me by that Simple Twist of Fate
Walked a journey so different to mine, and not because she, when she was young decided:
“When I grow up I want to live on the streets, be an addict and end up ‘inside’
Rather because of that Simple Twist of Fate.
Did her time for her crime
And finds now, in my world,
That the time for her crime is eternal.
That women pull their handbags closer to their bodies when they learn about her past.
That no one will give her a job.
That accommodation is almost impossible to find.
That she may not volunteer.
That men assume her body is for sale.
That my world sees her as a curiosity, always an outsider, never to be trusted.
That the only place she feels welcome is the place of her past; the place that will put her back
Where she started life; by a Simple Twist of Fate.
By that Simple Twist of Fate, I am me, not her.
And I wonder if it is I who needs the rehabilitation.
The courage and grace to forgive the crime, served by time.
To practice what I ‘preach’: the belief that everyone Really Does Deserve a Second Chance.
And then the strength to live by that code;
To believe it; to work it; to support it;
For surely I know that if she were me, by that Simple Twist of Fate,
She would offer the hand of grace;
For she, not me, by
That Simple Twist of Fate
Has walked a road of pain so great, that she, not me,
Is filled with love for her fellow man,
Not because they are wealthy,
Not because they are smart,
Not because they are clean, have teeth, combed hair,
But because they are Human;
Almost always doing the best they can with where they are at;
Because of that Simple Twist of Fate.
I was just wondering…………
I failed to mention security/crime/safety.
Every place you enter, be it shop, restaurant, museum, gallery, hotel or air port you are searched as is the car.
Police and military work together and are highly visible almost on every street corner – relaxed, friendly, armed and visible. Which is why I could happily walk in the dark alone in an African city and feel completely safe – no one jostled me, hassled me or made me feel nervous
Early start for Nairobi
What a stunning surprise Rwanda has been
And I didn’t tell you plastic bags banned here (and Uganda) only paper allowed
City Absolutely spotless – quite remarkable – not a piece of litter anywhere
And I noticed – no graffiti
And the traffic lights go into Amber ftom midnight till 630am! So sensible
Very liveable city
A Nation’s pride
Rwanda acquired, last week, their first Airbus 330-200
It sits on top of the hill at the airport for all to see and was shown to me with such pride
On its arrival in Rwanda it flew over the city for everyone to see and admire
Definitely a people looking to the future
Kigali Genocide Memorial
is the final resting place for more than 250,000 victims of the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.
It honours the memory of the more than one million Rwandans killed in 1994 through education and peace-building.
I wasn’t sure about visiting this centre – I have read quite a bit about this particular genocide and remember it well – would this be a ‘token gesture kind of place’ or so harrowing I would need space – lots of it to find equilibrium again.
It was neither – it was a remarkable place which honours those so brutally murdered and does so much more – it puts it into a context.
It does an excellent job about educating – about how incremental mind changes, subtle gossip and creation of envy can change neighbours into enemies.
“It is a crime against humanity to be
accused of being born ”
It looks at genocides throughout recent times :
– The Armenian 75% of those in Ottoman Empire murdered
– The Hereros 80% of population murdered
– The Pol Pot in Cambodia 25% of its population killed
– The Holocaust killed 6 million Jews (about 2/3 of Jewish population in Europe) and 5 million non Jews
– The Muslim killings in Bosnia Herzegovina has disputed figures but it is believed 200,000 people were killed, 12,000 of them children, up to 50,000 women were raped, and 2.2 million were forced to flee their homes.
– and the rest
And doubtless as our present becomes history more will be added – Syria? Iraq?
The word genocide is a fairly recent addition to our language:
Geno=Greek race/tribe Cide=Latin killing
But the act can be traced back to the Old Testament.
The centre has lovely gardens where contemplation is possible and while I spent three hours there I noted a large school group ; not just on a school excursion as we know them – a day out of school and a bit of fun . Rather an intense visit which included a long session in the Peace Room of interactive discussion. There were guides talking to them through each area and conversation appeared two way and deep.
2 mill dead in two months and it is believed that the number of foreign troops used to evacuate foreign workers could have stopped the attacks which they knew were planned. Communal guilt?
Gacaca (grass) courts were set up throughout the country post the killings – these were not ‘kangaroo’ courts but serious attempts to seek the truth and sentences ranged from prison to community work – those who found it possible to confess and asked forgiveness of relevant victims were generally given community work as ‘punishment’ 12000 courts in 10 years did much to bring some kind of resolution and these courts have been called the finest post conflict justice courts in the world – I wonder how many of us had heard of them?
Rwandans may be defined by their history in others minds but they are working through education to ensure it never happens again – (as can be seen by the two posters I copied.).
They also seem to know that without forgiveness moving forward is not possible
Where to start?
Perhaps with Uganda if you’ve been following my observations ….
You will have noted I was impressed with Uganda
Now up the ante and you get Rwanda
City of a thousand hills and the envy of surrounding countries
Everywhere you travel you are on the side of a hill looking down into a green valley and across to more of the city on the opposite hill – I could not tell which hill I was on at any time – quite confusing 😀. But the streets aren’t named, they are numbered, which I should imagine, must be a big help.
The smallest country in Africa I am told (although I have not checked that), landlocked between Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, and Zaire.
12mill people – very soft spoken- I had to lean in to hear my guide much of the time.
The cheapest medical insurance in the world at $5 per person ( think monthly)
The highest is $10. Compulsory
Education to year 10 is free and subsidised thereafter.
Very attractive sub economic housing is being built for the last of the poor – they will be given the homes with 50 years to purchase them at subsidised costs.
Scooters everywhere again with one exception ; no beds, coffins, sweet potatoes or entire families loaded on them 😂. Only one passenger allowed and both driver and pillion must wear helmets 🏍
Steering wheel ( and driver😜) on left hand side and they drive on the right hand side – it all feels very wrong and makes for a nervous passenger ( me)
Having said that though, while a casual glance gives the impression of chaos, when you take notice it is clear everyone knows what’s going on – no one needs to push in, they are allowed in, and no one seems to be rushing so it all works in a quiet way.
AND best invention ever!!!! The lights ( robots to some😜) are not just red or green lights🚦 but rather offer a red or green second count down : so you know exactly how long you will have to wait for or how soon you will not be able to go- surely an excellent stress reducer in the traffic – no wondering when on earth this blessed light is going to change 😂😂😂
And again the green, lush, fertile and productive earth is visible everywhere.
Everyone I have spoken to and I have asked everyone I have met what they make of their president Kagame, (whom some outside journalists imply is too dictatorial for the modern world).
Without hesitation each has applauded him as having all Rwandans interest at heart – his approach to the healing of this country has a familiar ring to it for us South Africans and perhaps because of the smaller population and groups, his legacy will last longer.
On the last Saturday if every month the country has ‘Community day’ when Everyone, children men women adult elderly parliamentarians, president, butcher etc etc meet in the various communities and work side by side – gardening, painting, whatever that community needs and ‘talk’ and hear what the local issues of concern are and plan into the future
As I say an interesting country. Defined by their recent horrific experience, but not limited by it – rather actively using it to propel the people towards a brighter future
“The future of any society depends on its ability to understand and reconcile with its past
Throughout Rwanda youth are engaged in peace education programmes and unity clubs”
Well made it to Kigali – and while for a few moments when I arrived I had visions of ‘a Powrie fiasco ‘ again, all’s well that ends well. People are very kinda nd after I had stood looking around for a while for my ‘connections’ a gentleman approached and offered to call and sort it all out while I had a coffee on the house – and he did!!!
More about Rwanda later, but the Now
Eating dinner alone (miss my mates 😩 Karen and Neville ) surrounded by tables of people speaking almost every language : Swedish to my right, French behind me ( French widely spoken here) German to my left, Italian in front and I could go on and on and the woman are all good looking and well dressed 😥- lucky I got out of my bush gear
It is a very large if somewhat old hotel (tv unhappy cause of the rain) bath water tepid which I’m told is hot and people as always considerate
This patio is so as one would expect from readings about Africa in a bygone time : a band playing and singing ( in the rain as they are uncovered)
tables spread out all round a large pool ( although again we confined under cover so tables very close) –
alcohol flowing – even I’m drinking
And the lighting adds to the visual beauty of the view
Hotel of a thousand hills in the city of a thousand hills – the view is spectacular