In 1994 approximately 800 000 people were murdered in Rwanda over 100 days as the international community stood by and watched. The killing was between the Hutu and Tutsi, definitions given out during the colonization period in the 1800’s. Today Rwanda is perfectly safe but the scars of such a recent tragedy are still apparent. A visit to the capital Kigali can not be done without stopping by at the Genocide Memorial. There is a mass grave here on sight as well as a museum. The museum is by donation with an audio tour costing you $13 ($10 if you have a “valid” student ID like me). The museum is in three parts with the first taking you through Rwanda’s history from the beginnings all the way up to today. The second part of the museum compares this genocide to others that have happened over history. The last part of the museum is when things really hit home as it shows you pictures of children killed during the genocide, and tells you tales of what there favourite things were. It then tells you one by one how each were killed or what their last sight was. It is quite a sombre experience but something you must do if in the country. You can also take a 40 minute bus ride from Kigali to Nyamata where there are two churches where mass murders took place.
I was lucky enough to bump into a guy who was my age at the bar, which would have made him seven during the genocide. He was a Tutsi and told me the story of how him and his family hid in a hole in the ground for three weeks. His father was killed just feet from the covered hole when he left to find the family bananas. The rest of them eventually made their way to Uganda where they were safe until things were over. I asked him how the country can get along now knowing what happened. He went on to mention that the only way for their country to move forward is for the one side to forgive and the other side to ask for forgiveness. He said that without this their country would be stuck in a vicious circle and never get anywhere. Very forward thinking as I don’t know if I would have had the same level head if my dad would have been killed. My hat is off to the Rwandan people who are making leaps and bounds in the recovery from such an atrocity not too many years ago.
(Pictures to come due to slow internet)