Unpredictability - Good for your health

Our modern life is based on organising an environment free from the unexpected. The house needs to be as stable and reliable as possible. The job as safe as possible. Nothing should break down. Nothing but what we predict, should occur.
This is the life of the zoo animal. Let's explore the life of the Nomad. Let's live the life of the Nomad.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Rwanda - And Genocide. Warning: this post is upsetting.

On the day of arrival into Rwanda my partner and her niece took me to a church service. It was the Christian Life Assembly church in Kigali. The building was huge and there must have been at least five hundred in the congregation. Five hundred mostly Rwandese but also many other nationalities, all singing together in praise of the Infinite Spirit.

I couldn't help but give some thought to the Rwanda that was - twenty two years in the past. Where had God gone then? When every day at least 8000 Rwandans had the life literally ripped out ot their beings with machetes, clubs and axes. Innocents - women, men, boys and girls and infants and babies.

And the social fractures that brought about these atrocities: the anger between so called Tutsi and Hutu ethnicities; this was largely the result of meddling by colonial powers. And what did these foreign powers do when the killings began?  For the most part completely nothing.  They evacuated their expatriate communities and abandoned the Rwandan people. They left behind a country whose everyday life must have been so hellish, every other complaint in my life I can think about seems almost pathetic in comparison.

The United Nations had a small peace keeping force in place in Rwanda at the time. It was so small that in fact any real peace keeping was impossible.  Lieutenant General Romeo Dallaire lead this force - a force that could do little else but stand witness to this monumental tragedy. He wrote about in in his book titled 'Shake Hands with the Devil - The failure of Humanity in Rwanda.'

Dallaire describes the daily horrors of life in Rwanda at the time and it is upsetting reading to be sure. He describes a journey through an unnamed village.

"We continued along lanes and paths that often took us through the middle of villages that did not appear on any map. In one village, we stopped to wait for all the vehicles to catch up to us. The path we were on had been one of the exit trails used by people fleeing Kigali. There were remnants of a barrier here, and many people had been killed and thrown in the ditches and on the sides of the road. Just as I glimpsed the body of a child, it moved. I wasn't sure if it was my imagination, but I saw the twitching of the child and I wanted to help. I leaned down to pick the child up, and suddenly I was holding a little body that was both tingling and mushy in my hands. In a second I realised that the movement was not the child but the action of maggots. I was frozen, not wanting to fling the child away from me but also not wanting to hold it for a second longer. I managed to set the body down and then stood there, shaky, not wanting to think about what was on my hands."

Dallaire later would try to commit suicide. He failed and went on to write this book as way of exorcising the scars.

We visited the Genocide memorial in Kigali. As expected it was a sombre experience. You can purchase a book here called "We Survived Genocide in Rwanda". This book contains the testimonies of 28 survivors.  It is a shocking book to read.  The horrors of the time are described by those that experienced them. But the horrors remain even today in Rwanda. For instance one poor lady describes her experience of being raped multiple times. And to survive. And to be diagnosed with HIV resulting from the sexual violence.

As we were walking through the exhibitions I heard a wailing from another room. This wailing will never leave me. The cries came from a lady who appeared about my age.   She was on the floor. Counselors were at her assistance. Her screams chillingly venting the trauma of her past experience.

During my stay in Rwanda we visited a family member of my partner. She also was a survivor of the Genocide.  This young lady took us into her house and I asked her how she had survived the slaughtering that was surrounding her. In perfect English she told me her story.

'Whether you survived or not', she said, 'it was a simply down to God's will'.

And the lady said of her escape:

'My mother told me that I must go away and that she will take my six month old brother. It would be too hard for me, she said, too look after the baby by myself.  I was only twelve years old. So I went away and this is how I survived .  But my mother and my little brother, they were killed'

I listened to this with stunned silence. Even now my brain has not digested the horror of this testimony - given to me with grace that I do not deserve.

Peace To All

1 comment:

  1. So sad, life was and is still,hard in some places