On our way to the genocide memorial site, my friend told me that she was not going in with me. She could not bear to see the pictures and stories again. Sometimes she was strong and took foreigners inside but that day was not one of the strong days. I was disappointed but I understood and agreed to go alone. She told me I could get a guide but I decided against it. I would go at my own pace and take time to read, re-read, feel and take it all in without worrying about someone else!
We got there and my friend showed me the entrance. She remained outside as agreed. A guy at the reception gave me a brief history of the site and showed me where to start. He offered a guide but I declined. I entered the place and immediately felt a fear and grave sadness hit me. The place was a bit dark and I could already feel the heaviness of the stories in there! I stood for sometime unable to move. I contemplated turning around and going back outside and not coming back. However I took deep breaths, prayed and talked to my heart. It would be hard but I could do it. I also heard voices of people already inside and the thought of not being alone was the final push I needed! I walked to the 1st picture slowly….
The story is told very well with pictures and below each picture there is an explanation in french, kinyarwanda and english. The story explains Rwanda before the genocide, during and even after the genocide in great detail. There are also videos of survivors narrating their stories and showing real videos of the state of the country and its people during those dark days.
The Rwandese were one people, speaking one language and enjoying their extremely fertile land when the French and Belgians arrived. The colonialists caused the division. They quickly introduced the class system by dividing people by how many cows they owned. They gave IDs to anyone who owned 10 cows and not to those with less. They also began giving preferential treatment to the Tutsis. They gave them leadership jobs and priviledges that the Hutus did not have. The divide was created and expanded by these policies and slowly the people did not see each other as equals. The Hutus rose up in revolt against the discrimination they were experiencing and took over government positions and all… This is where my heart became rock hard… The realization that the Hutu really believed their enemy to be their fellow Tutsi and not the french men. The french man was doing a ‘good’ job turning them against each other. He was the real enemy and as if to prove his position as the enemy, he switched his allegiances!!! He now supported the Hutu people and encouraged them to hate the Tutsis. They even came up with the famous ‘Ten Commandments’ against the Tutsi’s. The commandments were purely meant to stir up the hatred even more… The commmandmemts said things like: The Hutus were not to do business with the Tutsis, they were not to marry Tutsis, that loyalty to their own meant hating the others! The media and the church were also used as tools to fuel the divisions! Tell me what kind of people plan the disunity of a people like this? Who gets satisfaction from people hating each other? I will not lie here, I felt a strong hatred for the French at this point. Anger was burning inside me! 😦
I will summarize the story because it cannot be zipped into one blog post… In short, the hatred increased to a crazy point until the killings began. France as if to finish what they began, facilitated the side they preffered, with guns and grenades and unlimited bullets! I ask again, who does such a thing? Who enjoys being the mastermind of the deaths of innocent people? I know only one such person: the devil.
My anger turned to pain and the tears flowed freely. Death had taken over and wiped out millions! You know what? The french after stirring up the trouble packed up their bags and left the country when the killings started.It was as if their mission was accomplished. There are mass graves in each town in Rwanda as I was told.
I have not given the story justice and I cannot. I can say though that it was a dark time for our brothers in Rwanda. Those I talked to said it was literally HELL! They told me they will never forget what happened but the rebuilding they have done is AMAZING!!! They have slowly erased the divide that the white man created among them. They have realized who the real enemy is and they hate the Hutu-Tutsi talk. They are one people speaking one language and teaching the whole world a lesson of love and reconciliation.
I left the memorial with mixed feelings. Everyone alive should visit Rwanda and read and hear for themselves. It is heavy but totally worth it! I cannot say it enough, I loved the people of Rwanda!
(Wedding and Congo stories had to be pushed to part 3) 🙂