Twenty years ago this week, Rwanda experienced the greatest tragedy in living memory. The word ‘genocide’ has become a synonym for what happened in those dark 100 days that led to the hacking, axing, shooting, clubbing, killing of 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in one of the bloodiest spectacles man has witnessed. Man was to man, prey; man was to man, scavenger.
But 20 years on, Rwanda has risen out of the ash. Today, the country is holding itself together, patting itself, beating a new path to a new place where Rwanda means prosperity. Where Rwanda means oneness! Where Hutu and Tutsi and Twa mean nothing. Where Rwandan means everything! Let me share with you this poem I wrote to mark 20 years since the genocide. Folow on twitter, #Kwibuka20 and #Rwanda20yrs. God bless the 400 Ghanaian peacekeepers who defied our government’s orders and the orders of the UN Security Council to withdraw, standing to defend the thousands they could defend in those 100 dark days. Click here to read their story of bravery.
You were my brother
When the rains fell fast,
Racing down for their share of the scavenge
Which the river had reddened itself with.
The land hugged corpses, content
To bite the bones off dry flesh
Breezes changed cologne each time they passed over.
We stood together, silent.
You were my brother.
Did it matter if I was Tutsi?
What is the spelling of Hutu; You too?
We dug a live man out of a mass grave.
Another returned seeking the blood of the best friend who killed his family.
Women were served rape for breakfast.
Twelve baskets full left over
Were dished to the babies after them.
Were you my brother?
Today, the sun rises on our land
Watered before with the blood of our brothers
We hold hands together, daring tomorrow, never again.
If they come again, tooting Tutsi and hooting Hutu,
Demanding my blood from your hands,
Just look upon this spectacle
Remember us, the scars who survived that sore
And remember this question I ask you now;
Will you be my brother?
*Kwibuka is Kinyarwandan and means ‘Remember’.