I admit that until our visit to Kigali Memorial Center, my knowledge of the history of one of the most shameful chapters of mankind was very vague. That day an episode of the story caught my attention ...
The vision of the traveler: From the colors of Uganda to the asphalt of Rwanda
As a traveler, I must recognize that Rwanda altered the prejudices it carried from this part of the world. The great and almost almost impenetrable forests of Uganda, its neighboring country, of intense green of the lush vegetation, or the lakes, waterfalls and rivers reflecting every shade of the blue of the sky, contrast completely with the orange color of the roads of land that allowed us to cross it from North to South after many hours and stops.
However, the mere fact of cross the border to the land of Hutus and Tsutis that August 27, 2009 discovered a strange asphalt spot very different from my conception preset of a Rwanda anchored in the past.
Asphalt, billboards, sewer and lighting network and even large buildings in the capital of the Thousand Hills, Kigali, in the heart of Africa, it is at least shocking.
Kigali is today a modern capital, economic engine of a country that for a stranger of its history would be comfortable. In fact, its road safety and police presence on the streets, allows any western and tourist to enjoy any walk even at night.
The current communications, via a European city scale, make this country the most accessible to access one of the most exceptional experiences that nature can bring, which we did in Uganda after 6 hours of walking, the meeting with the Mountain Gorillas. Although the Volcanoes National Park allows many other visits, such as going on Search for the famous Golden Monkeys They live in bamboo forests, hiking or other activities.
However, all this land grows on the fertilizer of a bloody history, that which happened exactly 20 years ago today ...
1994: The Rwandan Genocide
I began this article, which is rather a reflection in "high print", reading the news in the newspaper that brought my memories to our passage through the Kigali Memorial. Museums like theHiroshima Peace Memorial Museum attrip to Japan 2008, which tells in a creepy way one of the saddest chapters of World War II or theHaunted house in the Budapest getaway 2009, which includes fascist and Stalinist crimes in Hungary, and evenKilmainhall Gaol in thegetaway to Dublin 2009, where much of the bloodiest history of the Republic of Ireland is, they impact the sensitivity of the visitor ... but the atrocities committed in the murders and reflected in this Memorial make tremble (photo: Tempi.it)
It is not necessary to be a historian, to know that if there is or was a problem in Africa, the European colonizers have a lot to do with it, and that was when the Belgians introduced an ethnic card in 1934 that gave the tsusis a higher social level that increased the tension, killings and hatred of this area of the planet.
He April 7, 1994, one day after the attack on the president, the radio station Mil Milinas spread the call for a carefully prepared extermination and that initiated a wave of violence in the country that became the greatest genocide in contemporary history (photos: Reuters)
Who doesn't remember the shocking images of mass exodus of people What we saw in the news while the UN withdrew its blue helmets and the international community not only ignored the problem but remained indifferent?
800,000 tsutis were killed in the cruelest ways ever imagined (to machetes, raped women, denigrated ...), buried in mass graves or simply abandoned as corpses in their streets. Cities were ghost places (photo: Reuters).
The month of July, with the largest refugee camp in history in Goma, in DR Congo, that we would also visit in those days, 100,000 orphaned children, 2 million displaced and the economic structure of a destroyed country, began a hard and complicated road to the present.
Rwanda, 20 years after the genocide.
I will never forget everyone's face of surprise when we crossed the border of Rwanda that day. Not only for finding us perfectly paved and signposted roads, sewer networks, and all kinds of publicity which a western country was, but also for the diversity of color that its inhabitants put to the margins of our road.
Tens of businesses cram into the main streets, with technologically "armed" men and incessant activity of each market to such an extent that the main American companies have set Kigali as the new Silicon Valley as reproduced by the news that opened my morning.
The fields are no longer limited to the collection of fruits and vegetables, but modern crops or improvised sawmills are seen every few kilometers.
Of course the tourism is the sector that produces the greatest impact to a country that has grown in recent years to 8%, promoted by major foreign investments and the privatization of numerous companies that were previously in the hands of the State.
However, and Despite the unimaginable change that Rwanda has hit in 20 years, not everything is written in color yet. The reduction of poverty and inequality has been evident, together with rapid growth, the improvement of infrastructure, education and health ... but in the countryside there is a serious problem lurking ... !!overpopulation!! More than 12.5 million people live in a small mountainous country, which brings problems to the countryside. !! 45% of Rwandans are still poor !!
This overpopulation (despite government measures to control births) together with two castes that still live together (although without the differentiation of the ethnic card) were some of the reasons for the genocide of 20 years ago. Today the rural-urban differentiation becomes even more evident.
However, and leaving more complex aspects aside (it is said that Rwanda supports the RDCongo militias to have control over mineral resources), it is to admire the capacity for change that this town has experienced.
I also suppose that this is one of those articles, those reflections, that one directs oneself and people like me who in their day did not understand why there must be memorials that recall certain catastrophic facts of history. I imagine thatIt's my way of remembering the day my heart shrunk in a fist, and return to a moment that never falls into oblivion now that the chronology is no longer written completely in black and white
Isaac (color and black photo of Lake Kivu at sunset, Rwanda)