Journey to Africa: Part 2: Rwanda: The Genocide

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My friend, David (who I talked with about math and evolution on previous blogs, links are below.) went on a backpacking trip in Africa recently. This is his story of the experience of other cultures.


This is the third blog in part 2 of this series. Here is the link for the page where the others can be found:


June 7, The Genocide:


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In 1994, the Rwandan Genocide took place. Millions of people were murdered all across the country, and families were ripped apart. Some families were completely wiped off of the face of the earth, with no one to commemorate their names. They were lost forever to the sands of time. 23 years later, this nation functions like any other, but with the healing scars of the trauma just beneath the surface.


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To someone who is unaware of the changes, they’d be none the wiser. But there is one fascinating thought that I have when I look at the faces of people who are a bit older than me; they lived through hell on Earth in this land, not so long ago. The genocide memorial was definitely one of the most emotionally impactful sites that I visited during this whole trip. Hearing the heartbreaking stories of the people, and about the sheer pointlessness of the events that happened, really got me thinking. What’s this life all about? Why are we here? What’s the end goal of all of this if it’s not just to live and die by the inexorable rules of nature? The experience definitely had an impact on me.


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I walked through the hallways that were lined with historical imagery and documentation of the events. There was a room that was full of the skulls and possessions of the victims, and I walked through the exhibit of the child victims. That’s the part that got to me the most. There were stories of the individual children, who they were, what they liked, and what tragic fate awaited them in their final destination. Some of them were blown away by grenades, and another one was stabbed in the eye and the head. One innocent baby was even hacked to death with a machete while he was in his mother’s arms.


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We had a tough time with trying to come back from the mental state that was caused by the genocide memorial visit. Later that afternoon, we got a gang of boda bodas and made our way to the art gallery. At our destination, we met up with Leah, a former OG (Operation Groundswell, our travel organization, not Original Gangster.) leader who would show us the way. She had a very exuberant personality and was open to talking and engaging with any of us. The art gallery was run by two painters who lived there. It was a small exhibitionist house with modernist paintings on every wall. The yard outside of the building had a lot of sculptures. They included trees that were made of steel and plastic bottles, and old rusty cars that were covered in paint. We took a few minutes to explore, take pictures, and enjoy the scenic views from the balcony and of the art.


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Later, boda bodas took us to the Kigali marketplace. It’s different from the ones in Tanzania. There in Kigali, they seemed to be a lot more organized into aisles. But they were still cramped and populated with lots of people. That’s where I bought my good print shirt and carry-on bag.


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