RWANDA-GENOCIDE-HEALTHChurch in Nyamata, Rwanda

I’m not sure if many of you have been watching the Travel Channel program “Breaking Borders”. In it a foreign correspondent and a food guy travel to areas of conflict and meet with locals to get individual perspectives on the conflict and their involvement in any questionable activiities. At the end these folks are gathered together for a dinner where open discussion is encouraged, some of which gets farily heated while remaining ultimately civil.

Sunday night’s show traveled to Rwanda looking at the 1994 genocide of Tutsis by Hutus. One young man, who was seven at the time, recounts how about 3000 people were slaughtered in a church. He was one of only seven survivors and did so only because his brother covered him with victims’ blood and instructed him to play dead. His entire family was murdered.

With smaller children the preferred method was to pick them up by their heels and to smash their heads against the church walls. Bloodstains are still visible. There are bundles of victims’ clothing on display and a room where many skulls and skeletal parts are exhibited.

The story takes us back to when the Belgians ruled and they made deliberate efforts to separate the Tutsis from other enthnicities, going so far as to measure their facial features in order to classify them. The Tutsis were then demonized which, together with evil government after liberation, led to the slaughter (800,000 in about 100 days) A couple of Hutus who were convicted for their parts in these murders were interviewed in prison.

What is remarkable is that great progress has been made in reconciliation. The man who lost his family and witnessed ugly murder harbors no ill will. In fact all sides seem to agree that the conflict between the two groups was nurtured by the Belgians and then succeeding governments when their did not appear to be a natural source of rivalry/conflict sufficient to spawn such horrors.

I am sure that is a gross oversimplification to an extent, yet still a reasonable overview of the evolution of the conflict

The folks at the dinner do have some areas of difference but it appears that this may be a result of the inability to fully absorb the horrors of the genocide and how they were affected.

Now that is my instant impressioin from viewing the program and I assure you there was greater depth to the program and undoubtedly much greater depth to be plumbed in that torn nation.

But as the Hutus and Tutsis are now living in peace, perhaps there is hope for other regions where similar long standing conflicts may have been eased, but remain a possible source of agony should the conflict again manifest itself violently.

Prior episodes have taken place in Israel, Sarajevo, and Belfacst, among other locales and it is quality viewing to observe the hosts try to draw the locals out.

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  • toadsly  On May 7, 2015 at 9:08 AM

    Uplifting post.

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