Genocides

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?
Who knows

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

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The gardens – the elephant with the mobile phone to keep communication open
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Enter a caption

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This statement for me is hope
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The posters referred to – actually a different site

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10 Belgium soldiers murdered here during this time
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Beautiful memorial to them

Be

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The explanation
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Let us…..

Rwanda

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Rwanda

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 πŸ˜€. 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 πŸ˜‚. 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 πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

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”

Hotel Milles de Collines

9k

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 πŸ˜₯- 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

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