Saturday, August 16, 2008
Third nigth in Kigali
We both had a long night sleep. Sleep is important, you understand. Very. A question of quality of life I guess. And I remember Carol D saying that she was not afraid to die but very much wanted to be comfortable.
Anyway, we are very comfortable at our nice hotel Serena, where we watch the news both from BBC, CNN and Al Jazera! And with a wonderful buffet for breakfast. And Rwandan coffee and tea is high end items on the world market.
In the morning our third day in Kigali Maurice our driver and cicerone, who lost his mother in the Rwandan genocide, took us to visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial. (The photo shows us at the memorial.) The memorial includes of mass graves where 250,000 genocide victims, a fourth of the Kigali population and a fourth of the number reported being killed during the Genocide, have been placed in coffins for a decent burial. It also includes various gardens and a museum. The site was founded by a visitor from Britain who had been inspired by Yad Vashem -- the Israeli Holocaust Memorial.
The gardens are works of art, with plantings in each representing a different period. First is the precolonial period of unity, second the colonial period when the Tutsi and Hutu distinction was born, third the genocide, and finally reconciliation/unification.
The museum tells the stories of individual victims and heroes as well as depicting the context and scale of assault. It includes a section honoring the victims of other genocides, including ones against Armenians by the Turkish government, in Germany against the Jews, in Cambodia against non communist conforming Cambodians - in particular intellectuals and Vietnamese and other minorities, in Namibia by Germany against natives, and the Serbian genocide against Muslims in Kosovo and Bosnia Herzegovina.
Maurice explained quietly how the violence before and during the genocide had changed his life. His parents both dead, a young Maurice dropped out of school to take responsibility for his 2 brother and 3 sister. Today he is 32 with a wife, 2 children 3 and 10 days old. Life is hard, he confessed, no food no money. He would love to go back to school.
The Catholic church has been active in educating the Rwandans since the colonizations. During the genocide many people died in churches where they fled hoping for protection. Today many Rwandans have turned to reborn Christians and the Pentecostal churches.
Today Rwandans do not talk about Tutsis and Hutus. They talk about unifying and building a new Rwanda and how to build the new market of eastern African union. Today's Rwandan Newspaper Times shows that the economic integration and deregulation is not a smooth transition. Tanzania for instance has just forbidden foreign ownership in their bank of micro financing. They fear, that volatility in the economy may have political and social destabilizing consequences, and having Rwandan or Ugandan shareholder may lead to less control over the company. We have heard similar fears not so long ago both in Europe and US. Free trade is difficult to implement.