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…..

Uganda

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Ankole cattle
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Crossing the Nile
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Roadside food – Rolex – delicious

24/09/2016

Uganda- 40 mill landlocked people with Kenya, Sudan, Ethiopia, DRC, Rwanda and Tanzania as neighbours.

Entebbe, on the shore of lake Victoria – the largest freshwater lake in the world and the source of the Nile river – is a bustling thriving city with a pulsing energy that you can’t ignore – colour, noise, apparent chaos – and yet not

Burra burras, cars and pedestrians all use the road as if it’s theirs – but there is, if one observes carefully, a respect of each other and a gracious courtesy that is quite different from the gritted teeth courtesy I’ve seen in other places.

Travelling as I am with two serious photographers my trusty iPhone has stayed well tucked away – I shall hopefully tag us in to great photos shortly

Back to Uganda – depends what eyes you use: ‘western eyes ‘ may see chaos, danger, poverty, deprivation, hard labour, hopeless…
The Ugandan sees opportunity, community, dignity, pride.

Schooling accessible to everyone and they are all taught their recent unhappy history
Medical services are available throughout the country
I’m told extreme poverty is almost non existent ,
AIDS treatment Gov sponsored so numbers decreasing rapidly :
Serious crime very low – rape minimum. sentence is life; death sentence is common
Illegal Possession of a gun is also a life sentence – so no one will touch them even if they find one in the street 😀

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Subsistence farming

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“We have peace in our hearts” is how one Ugandan “friend” described it to me

So if I haven’t bored you yet I’ll post about our 13 hour road trip

A stunning country – come and visit 😜

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[photographs by Neville Jones, me (video on my iphone!) & Karen Weskob]

A different Soul

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Thai restaurant on the lake
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My fish straight from the late with traditional roasted banana (not my best – dry to my taste)
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Lake Victoria
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One of many kindergartens
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Home
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Need a door? or bed or sofa or anything – you can find it along the road
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Brick kiln
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Bricks, and bricks and bricks
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The toilet – but somehow it didn’t offend. They all survive – why shouldn’t I?

Now I’ve had experiences in Africa over the years that led me to believe I knew it
But Uganda is Africa with a completely different soul
So so difficult for my Australian ‘family’ to comprehend

Apparent chaos ; the senses assaulted by sights, smells and sounds that do not fit our idea of a ‘good life’.

The roads – filled with ‘burra burras’ motorcycles – word originates from them transporting from border to border

What do they transport?
Easier to say what don’t they transport?
Nothing
I saw a granny wedged between a man and woman with a toddler balancing in the headlight in front
I saw a bed balanced on one – the entire road blocked
Bananas piled so high you couldn’t see the driver
I could go on and on

The markets – riotous colour and noise – chickens in cages, goats tied to roadside; children in the dirt looking for flying ants alongside the road – not a metre from our vehicle

(OH&S would have a heart attack)

Brick kilns everywhere making bricks which become homes with no rules or inspections 😜

I don’t have the temperament to take people photographs – I feel I need to respect their labour and sense of dignity and not turn them into photos of curiosity

– sorry
You will Just Have To Visit
The Pearl of Africa

A few photos I have taken though

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