The power of words

I first wrote these words after a visit to Rwanda during the period of commemoration of the Genocide. It seemed appropriate to re-blog them this HMD weekend where the theme if the power of words. The original title was: Favourite Food: Chips.

It is truly impossible to comprehend what happened in a little over three months in Rwanda in 1994. The Kigali Genocide Memorial Museum I visited today offers a detailed and vivid insight into those one hundred terrible days when it seemed that hell had been unleashed on this beautiful country. As the exhibition itself says, genocides are not spontaneous but the culmination of months and years of rhetoric and tiny actions that, in themselves, can be dismissed. But together, they become the rationale for extermination.

It was hard not to be overwhelmed with the volume of suffering and the brutality of the manner of killing. Men, women, children, babies hacked and bludgeoned to death. Stories of victims paying their killers to shoot them rather than endure a long and brutal death. It is impossible to hear the narrative of that time, to see a room full of simple family photos of those who died, without shedding tears.

But it is the Children’s Room that really brought it home. A number of rooms in the museum are set aside to tell the stories of just a few of the children who perished. And as you are confronted with the beautiful pictures of Yves, Yvonne and Fabrice, so you are also given their biographies:

Favourite food: chips

Favourite drink: milk

Best friend: my mum