Monday, October 31, 2016 (Solace Guest House, Kigali, Rwanda)

Steve was feeling a little better this morning...he actually managed to have a little breakfast this morning!

A cold buffet breakfast is served every morning...and we were able to sit out on the veranda...a lovely spot...
After breakfast, we all piled into the bus for our first outing here in Kigali. This is a picture of downtown Kigali in the distance...it's a big city!

This morning we tour one of Rwanda's most moving sites...the Kigali Genocide Memorial.
In the span of 100 days, an estimated one million Tutsis and moderate Hutus were systematically butchered by the Interahamwe and army. This memorial honours the estimated 250,000 people buried here in mass graves and tries to explain how it was that the world watched as the genocide unfolded.

We all had to get off the bus at the gate and go through a security search before entering the facility.


Once in the facility, a guide met us. He provided us with an in-depth tour telling us about the ancient history of Rwanda under Monarch, colonial times, first and second republics and the account of the 1994 Genocide and its root causes that killed a million people. The Museum explains the history, motives and how the country has reached its security and stability today.

The mass graves are laid in three main rows. Since 2001, more than 250,000 victims of the Genocide against the Tutsi have been buried at the memorial. Every year, more people are brought to the memorial for a dignified burial as the remains of victims in unmarked graves continue to be uncovered around the country.

Each mass grave holds 1,850 bodies, each coffin holds 10 bodies...

The wall of names is dedicated to those who died in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. The work is still in progress. Many of the victim’s names have yet to be gathered and documented and many of the victims who rest in the graves are unknown.

To mark the 20th commemoration of the genocide, a 1,200 seat amphitheatre was constructed at the memorial. The amphitheatre hosts memorial events, educational workshops, dramatic performances, cultural and historical events and film screenings. The amphitheatre was designed by John McAslan + Partners and marks the first phase of the expansion master plan for the Kigali Genocide Memorial. It was formally inaugurated on 8 April 2014.

The tour inside the museum was amazing and very moving. It is huge and very impressive. Unfortunately, no pictures were allowed unless you paid $20...

The first part of this exhibition gives an outline of Rwandan society before colonisation, including the unifying features and the harmony that existed before colonisation as well as a flavour of the hardships of everyday life. The second part details the planned nature and horror of the Genocide against the Tutsi, as well as stories of survival, rescue and from those who stopped the slaughter. The first part of this section details the post-genocide reconstruction that has taken place in Rwanda and how justice and reconciliation has been fostered.

The second exhibition is called ‘Wasted Lives’ because some of the massacres documented there have not been recognised as genocide by international law. The atrocities examined include Namibia, Armenia, Cambodia and the Balkans as well as the Holocaust.

The third section of the memorial was the hardest...pictures of kids and how they were tortured and killed...
The Children’s Room is dedicated to the memory of children killed in the Genocide against the Tutsi. This section shows how a generation’s dreams were stolen by genocide and remembers the thousands of children and infants slaughtered by genocidaires.

Canada's Lieutenant- General Romeo Dallaire played a major roll during the genocide and was part of the exhibits. Steve saw the movie  "Shake Hands With The Devil" a few years ago about his experiences and now wants to read the book the movie is based on. Here is an article on him...

Widely known for having served as Force Commander of UNAMIR, the United Nations peacekeeping force for Rwanda between 1993 and 1994. Dallaire tried desperately to stop the genocide that was being waged by Hutu extremists against Tutsis and Hutu moderates.

Early Life
Romeo Dallaire was born in Denekamp, Netherlands in 1946 . He later immigrated to Canada when he was six month-old and settled down with his mother in Montreal, where he spent his childhood. In 1963, he enrolled in the Canadian Army as a cadet at Le Coll├Ęge militaire royal de Saint-Jean, and graduated from the Royal Military College of Canada in 1970. He was commissioned into The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery shortly after, but continued to attend numerous military colleges over the next 2 decades.
Romeo & Rwanda
Dallaire received his commission as the Force Commander of UNAMIR in late 1993 to assist in the implementation of the Arusha Accords. The UN attempted to negotiate with numerous influential people within Rwanda to execute these Accords successfully, and as a result end the three-year Rwandan Civil War. Dallaire was tasked with supervising and helping both sides with the implementation of the agreed-upon Arusha peace accords and then transition to a new government.

While Dallaire came to Rwanda expecting a standard mission, he soon noticed early signs that something was wrong.

On January 22, 1994, a French aircraft landed in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, loaded with ammunition and weapons for the Rwandan Armed Forces (FAR). Dallaire learned through an informant that these weaponry would later be utilized in an attack on the Tutsis and he promptly sent a telegram to the UN. He had requested to seize these shipments, but his request was denied on two main reasons. Firstly, the shipments had been ordered before the Arusha Accord, and as such, the UN was not allowed to attain possession of them. Secondly, the FAR displayed paperwork indicating that the weapons had been sent by several countries (Belgium, France, United Kingdom) in which the UN believed had good intentions. In the end, these weaponry were not seized and were later used to massacre countless Tutsis.

Also at this time, troops from the Rwandan government began checking identity cards of the citizens, which identified individuals as either Hutus or Tutsis. This tactic of utilizing identity cards would later allow Hutu militias to quickly and easily pinpoint their victims with precision during the Genocide.

Genocide
On April 6, 1994, the Rwandan president’s plane was shot down. This set in motion the vicious genocide as extremists within the Hutu population began assassinating moderate government officials and ultimately claiming the lives of more than 800,000 Rwandan Tutsis and moderate Hutus within 100 days.

Amid this escalating violence, Dallaire stood his ground and faced a nearly impossible situation. His force shrunk from 2,500 soldiers to merely a few hundreds as nations withdrew their troops in the first days of the slaughter and the UN repeatedly refused to send reinforcements. Dallaire and his remaining forces remained, attempting to save as many people as they could while the massacre continue. Most of his efforts were to defend specific areas where he knew Tutsis would be hiding, resulting in directly saving the lives of 32,000 people of different races throughout the genocide.

As the massacre progressed in Rwanda and press accounts of the genocide grew, the UN Security Council rethought Dallaire’s former request and voted to establish UNAMIR II. It included a strength of 5,500 men which would be sent by the UN. As opposed to UNAMIR, which had a peacekeeping mandate under Chapter VI of the U.N. Charter, UNAMIR II would be authorized under Chapter VII to enforce a peace. It was not until early July in 1994, when RPF troops under Kagame swept into Kigali that the genocide ended.

While the genocide is over, Dallaire witnessed acts so inhuman during his time in Rwanda that he now suffers from severe post-traumatic stress disorder. He attempted suicide in 2000, but now writes about his experiences in Rwanda as a method of dealing with his condition.



After we had finished going through the memorial, we sat outside in the shade waiting for everyone to finish and then we all boarded the bus to return to the Guest House. Wow...that was a very interesting but difficult morning.

Steve took a few pictures on our way back. Kigali has some very new, modern buildings...this is the Legend Hotel and a taxi motorcycle...




After lunch, it was time to head out on another excursion...to watch a performance by the Yego-Rwandan Dancers. Steve is so run down that he tires easily so opted to stay behind and have a nap. Here's a shot of us crowded into our bus. The isle has jump seats. It's quite the production getting on and off with your gear and taking turns sitting in the crummy spots such as over the wheel wells...

Arriving at the auditorium where the performance is taking place...
We were greeted by Emmanuel, Athanasie and their daughter, Gloria...
 ....and escorted onto the stage where chairs had been set up for us. After welcoming us, the first performance started...
We heard the story of a Genocide survivor with Gloria translating...heartbreaking...
Music...
...and more performances of transitional Rwandan dances...
Another Genocide survivor telling her story...
It was an afternoon of smiles and happy dances...and very sad stories. Another very emotional time as we all thought of the horrific things these people went through. So many loved ones gone...

It was late afternoon by the time we arrived back at the Guest House. We had dinner and then Joan, a Reiki Master, came up to our room and shared her energy with Steve, giving him a treatment (a healing technique based on the principle that the therapist can channel energy into the patient by means of touch, to activate the natural healing processes of the patient's body and restore physical and emotional well-being). At this point, Steve was open to anything that would help him fully recover!

While they were doing that, I relaxed on a couch in a 'common area' outside our room...then after a very emotionally tiring day, it was bed time!


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