Day 2: December 31st, 2015
Time: 11:52 am
Hello my Band of Merri Readers,
This morning we have toured the city and it has changed. There is more and more development going on. Even despite all this development the overall happiness and joy of Rwanda has not changed. Everyone here seems like family to each other and it is so confusing to me on why the hell can't we be like this in the USA? During breakfast (which is always so delicious) Drew commented that I am already smiling more here (Rwanda) than I do back home. I think that is probably true. I feel immensely relaxed and yet focused while I am here maybe it is the sun or the people but I do feel happier over here... Or perhaps I am just built for African time (where 7 is more like 7:15). Well the smiles will have to wait because today is hard to smile. After the tour we went to two memorial sites. The first was the Belgian Memorial and the main Genocide Memorial Site, both equally tough to witness and walk through.
This was the first time being at this particular memorial site. In Rwandan style the memorial was up lose and personal, much different from American sites. In America our memorial sites are very shut off and the tradition is to look in silence and leave. There are glass walls preventing people from really connecting to the events and they are very impersonal... on the other hand in Rwanda they make sure that nothing is shut off. This site is memorializing the ten Belgian UN Officers who were murdered while protecting the Prime Minster. These men were told to disarm and that they were being transported to the UN. Instead they were taken to the site of the Memorial (I think it was a school at the time) and these men rushed into a building and with two (each) concealed hand guns held off the the Hutu extremeness for several hours. Ultimately they were out numbered forced into a corner of the building and then shot to death.
As you can see the bullet holes are still there and sometimes even the blood is still on the walls. You cannot escape the massacre that has happened, and Rwanda uses this as a constant reminder of what happened and strangely of a way to remind themselves about forgiveness.
There are more pictures I have on my camera I am just having trouble getting them over to my laptop, but when I do I'll throw them up here for you.
Kigali Genocide Memorial Center
This is my second time going to this Memorial site and that does not make it any less easy. And there were somethings I found I had missed from last years exploration. For example I saw these:
Hutu 10 Commandments:
All Hutu must know Tutsi women wherever she may be is serving the Tutsi Race. All Hutu Men who take: Is considered a traitor.
Hutu Women are better in every way so why would you not want a Hutu wife?
Hutu Women make sure to service your husbands so they come to their senses. Tell your sons about how great Hutu women are.
Tutsi are dishonest in business transactions
The military us for only Hutu
Education is for Hutu
Rwandan Armed Forces strictly Hutu
Stop taking pity on Tutsi
Hutu must be united
Anyone against Hutu even other Hutus are traitors
The power behind this propaganda is outstanding. I found myself asking would I be persuaded by this style of propaganda?... I'd like to say no but honestly I am not sure. As I walk through I start to realize that I'm not really feeling much emotions... I didn't really last year. Like I realize the horrific events makes me mad that we let this happened, but I see people from our Village crying or tearing up. Then I'm there like "yeah... this was bad" dry-eyed. The time I really felt a sorrow emotion was the part of the memorial where they showed the holocaust and that made me me feel kind of selfish and confused why I did not have this emotion throughout the whole site.
As we moved on the last part of the indoor part was the kids room. This room I went through twice; once by myself and once with Dan. The time I went by myself I wrote down three descriptions of how these kids died (The kids room is a room dedicated to children who were murdered in the Genocide):
Francine Murengezi Ingabire
Favorite Sport: Swimming
Favorite Food: Eggs and Chips
Favorite Drink: Milk and Fanta
Best Friend: Elder Sister Claudette
Cause of Death: Hacked by Machete
Fabrice Murinzi Minega
Favorite Sport: Swimming
Favorite Food: Eggs and Chips
Best Friend: Mum
Cause of Death: Bludgeoned with Club
Enjoyed: Singing and Dancing
Favorite Food: Cake
Favorite Drink: Milk
Behavior: A neat little girl
Cause of Death: Stabbed in her Eyes and Head
Now with this description there are the pictures above (due to the rules we were not allowed to take photos inside) it so it gets real personal and it is heartbreaking to look at this. These were kids... just a little older than myself (I was born in 1993). After walking out I realized my role in the village is the silent support so I was able to help Dan through this emotionally struggle. This day was tough but a good day to open myself up more emotionally and strengthen my heart.
Now to go back to the Title... this post was inspired by the song The Dog Days Are Over by Florence + The Machine. What inspired me was the fact that even though this terrible event happened the Rwandan people are moving forward and the country of Rwanda is now the safest in Africa. Although the dog days are not completely over but it is getting better every day, and the amount of progress is outstanding.
Find out what happens next time... On the next episode of Cpt. Sam's Blog!
Cpt. Samuel M. Merriman