Wednesday, April 07, 2010


In Rwanda, It's As If Genocide is Still Going On
By Clive Owen
The Times, April 7, 2010
"[...] It's very hard for an individual to take on the concept of a million people dying in 100 days. But as soon as you listen to one person’s story you start to relate on a human level, and you begin to realise just how devastating it was. The centre at Kigali was at its most powerful when it got personal. A few days later I'm sitting in Winifred's front room. Her home is a rudimentary affair, involving mud walls and a thatched roof, but it's fairly standard in a country where, despite astonishing economic progress, most people still earn little more than £1 a day. But the emptiness in her eyes tells you that no amount of material progress will solve what's eating this woman. Pregnant during the genocide, Winifred gave birth after being raped, beaten and left for dead. She was unable to protect her newborn baby, and the child was dragged away and eaten by dogs. Today she has Aids from the rape, and is unable to support herself without charity, because of the loss of breadwinners in her family during the genocide.
Her son, then 10 years old, witnessed everything. He now has enormous psychological problems. It's little wonder. In Rwanda, where psychological support is an unaffordable luxury, the need is overwhelming. For the sake of Rwanda's future, there is no question that reconciliation is the only way forward. At the same time, survivors such as Winifred are living almost next door to perpetrators. It's ridiculously naive to think that a victim of the genocide can just bury what happened to them and move on. Reconciliation can’t be rushed. It’s going to take time, sensitivity, careful handling and proper education. The danger is that with all the tragedies happening around the world, people think of the Rwandan genocide as something that's over. From what I saw, however, it is happening; it's not a past thing. Its consequences are clearly spilling from one generation to the next. We can’t restore what was destroyed, but we can -- and we should -- acknowledge that suffering and help survivors to pick up the pieces. It's not all doom and gloom, though. Rwanda is a stunningly beautiful country, and there's a palpable sense of hope for the future. [...]"

1 comment:

  1. Rwandan genocide was atrocious and I am happy that today, the Secretary-General of the United Nations insisted on the fact that preventing future atrocities is the best way to honour Rwandan genocide victims.
    Unfortunately, it seems that Rwanda until now has avoided to engage in a truth - dialogue - reconciliation process which would be able to close the wounds in the shaken society.


Please be constructive in your comments. - AJ