"For one to forgive, you need to know whom you are forgiving. Not all Hutus killed. Until now, no-one has asked for forgiveness."
I looked up and on the screen was the face of a man who had lost so much. His eyes were too sad for words. Maybe rheumy, red with sadness.
In another room, I found faces. Children. Women. Men. Happy. Black and white photos as well serpia ones that gave identity to the skulls that lay encased a few meters away.
The children's room was full of life, and death. The boys and girls had names. Next to their names were their favorite foods and drinks and hobbies too. There was this nine months old baby; his favorite word? Mama. Latest memory? He watched his mother die. Then he was shot dead too. I sat on one of the benches and wept.
Minutes later, I walked out to the gardens of reflection at the Kigali Genocide Memorial and here, as I reflected on the last couple of hours, I found beauty. The vast ground hosts six gardens;
- Gardens of Unity, Division & Reconciliation
- The Rose Gardens
- The Garden of Self Protection
- The Provinces of Rwanda Garden
- The Flower of Life Garden
- The Forest of Memory
Today, while writing this piece, I had to go back in time to that hot Tuesday afternoon, recalling what I saw and how I felt. It was haunting. How much more for those who have to deal with this every day of their lives? To will themselves to remember their loved one's smiles and laughter, how their hugs made them feel and the sound of their voices. Can one really remember these without seeing the machete that hacked their mother or the bullet that ripped their baby's heart apart? I wonder.
1 Corinthians 13: 4-7
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Lest we forget: Genocide is not a single act of murder. It is a million acts of murder.
Kigali Genocide Memorial official website: http://www.kgm.rw/
Photos by Trezer Oguda