Travel Diary: My Visit To The Genocide Memorial in Kigali
Once upon a time, there was a united Rwanda, where everyone lived in peace and no man thought to separate himself from the rest because he is more elitist than most. Then the white man colonized the Rwandans and saw the need to categorize the people as elitist and the majority. The elitists were the ethnic group called Tsutsi: the 15% that was seen as more intelligent and industrious. The Hutu, the majority (84%), less superior and not worthy of breathing the same air as the Tsutis
The Belgians educated and favoured the Tsutis but ignored the Hutus. The Tsutis began to feel like the untouchables, the white man told them they were the better ethnic group, therefore they were. The Hutus got tired of feeling like second-class citizens, seeing as they were more than the elitists, they took over power and waged war in Rwanda, having no mercy on the Tsutis, killing them like chickens, leaving their bodies on the streets to be feasted upon by dogs and raping the women, deliberately infecting them with HIV.
During the war, the French continued to sell weapons to Rwanda.
Rwanda had turned into a nation of brutal sadistic merciless killers and of innocent victims overnight.
About 1,070,014 people died in 100 days. Most of the dead were Tsuti.
This is a summary of the Genocide.
At the solemn tear-inducing museum, many of us tourists spent hours reading the stories, looking at pictures of dead bodies, some decayed, some massacred. I felt the sadness in the room. All that information was a lot for one to take in at once. The war videos, handmade weapons, guns, skulls and skeletons that we saw live didn’t help matters. You could hear everyone sigh in sadness and heartbreak, I heard a lady sob, I saw tour guides shed tears and a male tourist clutch a branch of flower close to his chest as he wept in silence.
My heart was heavy but I was determined not to cry. I was very curious as to how any country could recover from this hell, how could they forgive one another and now live in Unity? This happened 25 Years ago but it felt like yesterday.
A Caucasian lady had appeared beside me, she was shaking her head in shock while viewing harrowing pictures, so I asked her “What are you thinking?” She swallowed the lump in her throat and said “This is why I brought my daughter here. To show her that we are the wrongdoers and the colour of our skin does not make us superior. I want her not to harbour any dirty thoughts towards people of colour. She must learn the survivor story of Rwanda then when she gets back home, she will tell her friends, ‘Africa is a great continent filled with survivors'”
Her eyes were heavy with tears as she continued to shake her head in disbelief at the images before us. I sat down then because we were both in front of a screen showing a documentary of Rwandans who had survived.
What all the victims said had this in common “We must forgive or we will never move on”
This was when I cried and all the way to the chldren’s section where pictures of the cutest babies (dead) were displayed, I wept harder. Not only for the hell I had just seen with my own eyes but also because Nigeria is a divided country and I hoped, just as the Rwandans now see themselves as one, we are able to do the same.
It will do us some good to skip the war and go straight to seeing each other simply as one Nigeria. No one should ever live through what the Rwandans went through during the genocide. I hope you crave history and visit this place someday.
This trip was sponsored by www.travelden.com