Kigali Journals

Tales from Rwanda

A May 2004 trip to Kigali by husain

Novotel Kigali Umubano Photo, Kigali, Rwanda More Photos
Quote: Perhaps a country thats become synonymous with strife, violence and bloodshed - if you followed the news bulletins ten years ago, and then again- on the tenth anniversary of the genocide. Rwanda was in the news, but not on the agenda. A responsibility that the world refused to accept and an apology that it has ended up becoming ever since... Before the genocide occurred in 1994, Rwanda was often referred to as 'a tropical Switzerland in the heart of Africa' Between April and June 1994, within the space of a hundred days, almost a million Rwandans, almost ten percent of the entire population, were killed. Most of the dead were Tutsis and most of those that killed were from the from the majority Hutu community. Some moderate Hutus were killed as well, in what is referred to as `the fastest genocide in history'. The international community did its best not call it genocide, since labelling it as such would impose a legal obligation on the world to try to stop it.

Tales from Rwanda

Overview

gacaca courts Photo, Kigali, Rwanda
Quote:
Between April and June 1994, within the space of a hundred days, almost a million Rwandans--nearly 10 percent of the entire population--were killed. Most of the dead were Tutsis, and most of those who killed were from the majority Hutu community. Some moderate Hutus were killed, as well, in what is referred to as the fastest genocide in history. The international community did its best not to call it genocide, since labelling it as such would impose a legal obligation on the world to try to stop it. Instead, 'acts of genocide' was the phrase that was coined, to refer to what was happening in Rwanda.Quick Tips: Before the genocide occurred in 1994, Rwanda was sometimes referred to as 'a tropic...Read More
Novotel Kigali Umubano Photo, Kigali, Rwanda
Quote:
A comfortable place to return to at the end of a day that was always full of loads of very powerful, sad, emotional stories. It was almost like you kind of needed to step away from some of it at the end of the day, to reflect and ponder. The hotel had a good buffet breakfast, a busy pool, tennis courts, and Internet access (albeit on the slower side).

http://www.accorhotels.com/accorhotels/fichehotel/gb/nov/3410/fiche_hotel.shtml

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 8, 2005

Novotel Kigali Umubano
BOULEVARD DE L UMUGANDA
Kigali, Rwanda
250-250-585815

Volcanoes National Park (Parc des Volcans)

Attraction | "Gorilla Tourism"

Quote:
While the war raged in Rwanda, the country’s popular gorilla tourism industry, made popular by the famous conservationists Dian Fossey/Jane Goodall, came to a halt. Some gorillas even fell prey to human diseases from the post-war situation. These very rare silverback mountain gorillas were being pushed further to the brink of extinction. However, some serious conservation efforts have resulted in the numbers rising, and the future for this primate looks brighter now. The gorilla sighting tours are becoming popular again in Rwanda's Volcanoes National Park. Tours can be arranged through the Rwanda tourism board (reservation@rwandatourism.com). On our trip to Rwanda, we often heard of this...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 21, 2005

Volcanoes National Park (Parc des Volcans)
Bordering Virunga National Park
Ruhengeri, Rwanda

misty mountains Photo, Kigali, Rwanda
Quote:
It was a strangely calm yet eerie sight to look out of the window as we came in to land. It was dusk, moving into darkness, and there was a mist settling upon the hills, becoming unusually dark. I was probably just overreacting. I still had the frightful images of the genocide in my head… In true traveller style, I pulled out my camera as soon as we set foot upon the tarmac, only to have it immediately snatched from my hand by a security guard. I begged and pleaded for the next few minutes, and it was returned eventually. You are not allowed to take pictures there. Perhaps an oversensitive nerve, but the genocide in 1994 was sparked off when the plane carrying the then president was shot down at...Read More

Survivors

Story/Tip

Rwanda Photo, Kigali, Rwanda
Quote:
I forget her name... but hers was a typically sordid tale among many of the survivors. Perhaps hers was a little worse than the others, though. After seeing every single member of her family being butchered at the hands of the attackers, she spent three months in captivity, held by the Hutu 'interhamwe' militia. She was regularly assaulted and raped throughout that time. At the end of the ordeal, when she was eventually free, she realised that she was pregnant. Also, she was suspected of being HIV-positive. She eventually bore a son, the only family she has now. The child to her was also a cruel reminder of the terrible events from the past. She loved him and hated him... and admitted...Read More

Meeting Eddie

Story/Tip

meeting eddie Photo, Kigali, Rwanda
Quote:
At Ntarama, we met Eddie, a Hutu who had been part of the Interhamwe and was one of the killers. He had been in jail for 9 years and had been freed recently by the Gacaca court. He was doing his bit of community service now. We wanted to interview him on camera, and he agreed... Eddie recounted, in great detail, his experiences during the killings and his own actions. Pretty brutal and spine-chilling stuff... He described how he hated the Tutsis, how he killed his neighbour's wife, and how he and his fellow Hutus used to compete in killing Tutsis. The fewer the blows needed to kill, the more committed you were to the cause. Heavier clubs with nails were, therefore, the preferred weapon. He kil...Read More

Gacaca Courts

Story/Tip

Gacaca courts Photo, Kigali, Rwanda
Quote:
Gacaca means grass. These are local-level courts that were traditionally used by village communities who would gather on a patch of grass to resolve conflicts, usually between families, employing the heads of each household as judges. In an effort to speed up the process of justice in the post-genocide scenario, Rwandans have chosen the Gacaca system. The courts often hand out reduced sentences to those who confess to their crimes. Since the process often takes place in the presence of the victims, it can also be a sort of reconciliation and healing for both parties. Though the system is said to be far from perfect, it is preferred to a conventional system where those in prison could h...Read More
Pres. Paul Kagame Photo, Kigali, Rwanda
Quote:
An interview with a head of state is always a special thing. To top that, interviewing someone who has had such a crucial role to play in where Rwanda stands today was even more important for us. Paul Kagame, the soft-spoken teetotaller president, exudes an image which almost seems to hide his past. A military man for most of his life, he led the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), the Tutsi rebel force, which toppled the genocidal Hutu regime, and brought an end to the slaughter. There have, however, been accusations against President Kagame as well - from the French, for one - that he was the one who gave the order to shoot down the airplane of the then-president Habyalimana, which sparked ...Read More

Ntarama church

Best Of IgoUgo

Story/Tip

Ntarama Church Photo, Kigali, Rwanda
Quote:
It feels a bit odd to call this a 'must-see activity', since it's not exactly a tourist spot that I'm talking about, but considering how disaffected the issue was to the world, I think it couldn't go with a better title. We were aware that the Ntarama church was among the genocide sites. We knew it was going to shock us when we saw it, but weren't prepared for the sights that lay in store. While we approached the site upon a little hill, there were no pointers to the acts that took place here in April 1994. It seemed like a peaceful part of the countryside, but only till you reach a little board with some statistics, erected just outside the church compound. It read: 'Ntarama church, ...Read More

ID Cards

Story/Tip

ID Cards Photo, Kigali, Rwanda
Quote:
The former Belgian colonial government in Rwanda had introduced the concept of ID cards for the Rwandans. These cards clearly stated whether the cardholder was a Muhutu, Mututsi, or Mutwa. This brought with it a fixed concept of group or racial identity, something that was not so prevalent so far. The post-colonial government of Rwanda decided to retain this practice, and many Hutus in the government endorsed it, too. The systematic killings that were a feature of the Rwandan genocide were helped in a big way by this system. At the many roadblocks, which were spread all across town, it would probably have spelt certain death for someone to have been seen with an ID reading Tutsi. At th...Read More