Skip to main content

Les Journaux Africains: One Love Bar, Kigali, Rwanda - 20.01 03/04/2010

Another thought provoking day, as every moment in Rwanda seems to end up being. To avoid clichés about devastation, horror and disbelief is impossible. To use the word 'another' in front of 'thought provoking' seems unfair and seems to debase the point - this isn't my intention at all.
The coaster at Nymata.

We have visited two different Genocide memorial sites today. Both of these are a long stretch from the sanitised environment if the main Genocide museum, in all its government- and internationally-sponsored glory overlooking the the dust and murk of L'Avenue de la Gendarmerie. These were time capsules.

The first site that we came to was Ntarama Church, about an hour outside of Kigali. The building, upon first glance, looks intact, but it is upon closer observation that one sees the hallmarks of war; a grenade hole in the wall, missing windows, bloodstained shirts and, finally, a glimpse of row upon row of human remains.

Inside, there is a strange smell, sweeter than the musky smell of an English church. This smell, you soon realise, is the smell of death. Death on clothes, on bones, on the floor. Death in the very molecules of clay that constitute this building that has long since ceased to be holy. The students are startled. One runs from the main building, covering his eyes, shouting. There is silence.

One of my students meets some locals.
A few rumbles of thunder roll in from the distance and the wind picks up. Some raggedly dressed kids come begging The heavens open in a great act of pathetic fallacy. Its time to leave. The rain continues all the way Nymata.

In Nymata, leafs are still heavy from the rain but life is starting to return to the muddy streets as Chris, a friend of Peter's, introduces us to Charles Mugabe - suddenly the Genocide's victims have a face and voice.

With Chris' soft tones translating Charles' even softer Kinyarwandan words, we are taken around the church building. Every scratch, shrapnel scar, row of stained clothes, broken door, cut on a leg, has a strong and shocking story.

Home of a sister murdered by Interahamwe.
Charles recounts how, as the Interahamwe Genocidaires systematically toyed with and killed all of those taking refuge in this House of God, he eventually had to hide, covered in the blood of his family members and the limbs of dead strangers, playing 'dead', in order to survive. He eventually escaped, but not before 2,000 other Tutsis and moderate Hutus had died immediately around him. How did that little boy recover from that? The tours must only be a mild form of catharsis as an adult. He eventually found a grandparent to care for him.

In the darkness and back in Kigali having procured an MTN sim card, I'll call home. The night is destined to take us to the One Love Bar - a Marley-esque evening of dancing and music with a slightly tipsy guide will help to take the edge off the afternoon for all of us.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

From a Crooked Rib by Nuruddin Farah

I stumbled across Nuruddin Farah’s novels when searching for something written by a Somali author. Perhaps due to the conflict that has raged for years in Somalia, it is very difficult to find much from Somali writers published in English.
From a Crooked Rib was published in 1970 and tells the story of Ebla, a young, orphaned, illiterate nomadic girl, who runs away from her encampment. She takes the decision to leave upon learning of her Grandfather’s intention to marry her off to an older man within their Jes (a group of families living in an encampment together).
She firstly escapes to a town, Belet Amin, where she finds her cousin and his pregnant wife. She also finds a guide and confidante in a character known only as the widow. Things seem settled until, yet again, Ebla finds her freedom compromised by a male character – this time her cousin, whose wife and child Ebla has been nursing.
In her haste she leaves Belet Amin with the widow’s nephew, bound for Mogadishu – still called

Atay Maghrebi: Hendrix Myths on The Road to Sidi Kaouki

The familiar washed-out and salt-tinged ocean air coloured the sky, lending it a soft pastel-blue light as I sat and tried to recall what I had been doing the day before.
I hadn’t been feeling one hundred percent since eating a weird tasting keftatagine in a Marrakech establishment (that shall remain nameless), but I was beginning to feel little more like myself after a few days of freshly cooked food at the Atlantic Hostel.
As I sat on the sofa at the highest point of the roof terrace, my red Moleskine in my hand, I spotted to my left a pile of blankets and thought nothing of it. That is, until it started moving and a young man who looked like an Amazigh version of Captain Jack Sparrow emerged, greeted me in French and stumbled down the stairs.

After a few coffees, I went searching for some light breakfast and a short walk away from the Hostel, on Rue de Hajjali, found Le Patisserie Driss. 
None of the pastries or cakes seemed to have a sign, but using a combination of pointing, F…

Breaking the Barriers to Girls’ Education in the Developing World

Whenever I have written about time I’ve spent in East Africa, I often talk about the fact that geography plays such a big role in how different my life is compared to someone there. What I hadn’t realised until much more recently is that not only does somebody’s physical location in the world play a massive part in the opportunities available to them, but so does their gender.
One question that begs to be asked is: why is it that girls in particular are less likely to get access to education in poorer countries?
According to Plan UK, women earn 30-60% of men’s earnings for similar jobs and women are more likely to be in low-paid employment, yet an extra year of secondary school boosts a girl’s eventual future wage by 15-25%. Many don't even have the opportunity to get this far.
There are obvious cultural and economic pressures dictating that boys, as historical breadwinners, should be pushed to the fore and afforded the greater opportunities to be educated.
After all, imagine you are…