A Sad Day

Thursday in Kigali was rather sad for me.  I visited the Kigali Memorial Centre, a well-developed and supported museum and educational center regarding the Rwandan Genocide.  Photography was not permitted inside the building, but I took several shots outside, on the grounds.  You can see a few more by going here.  Imaneulli dropped me off at the memorial and I took my time working my way through it.  The displays were very well done and made quite an impression on me.  Several areas featured children who had been killed, one area had survivors’ stories and another presented information about resistance.

A quote from the Talmud was placed in the section on resistance: He who saves a single life saves the world entire.

It is almost incomprehensible that only 15 years ago, between 800,000 and 1,000,000 (some estimate more) people were murdered here.  Most of those were Tutsi, the tribe which was attacked. I was finishing up graduate school in the spring of 1994.  We were living in Columbus Ohio at the time.  I can’t say that the horrific events that occurred here in Rwanda had much effect on me at the time.  I know, that is a sad statement, but regretfully, true.

The Centre had a good area dedicated to other modern genocides, including the genocide of the Jews, the Armenians, and the Hereros, among others. It was important for me to reflect on the reality that people, in each generation and in each social group, have the capacity for this kind of aweful, evil behavior.  Are we learning?  Can it happen again?  Could it happen here, or there?

The somber atmosphere and the compelling, and at times horrifying displays took a toll on me.  I was thankful to be able to walk outside and stroll around the gardens at the Centre.  I also got a chance to meet a staff person at the educational center.  There is a very active educational program for secondary students here, and each day, during the school term, many students come to observe and to be instructed about this dark period in their country’s recent past.

Imanuelli picked me up just as a torrential rain storm arrived.  We drove back to Remera in a heavy storm, past the American Embassy, and the Rwandan Ministry of education.  We passed Parliment, where the President was speaking.  Back in our neighborhood, the sun was out.  I went for a walk and ended up at the Ethiopian restaurant where Paul and Debbie and I had eaten in August.  Goat for dinner!

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