Saturday, 24 January 2009

Greetings from Rwanda

I've spent the last week or so here in Rwanda.

I spent most of today at the genocide memorial centre in Kigali. The cetre is built ona  hill overlooking Kigali and was the site of several massacres. Over 50,000 people were killed and put in a mass grave there by the Interahamwe militia that carried out the killings, with the connivance of the Rwandan military and, lets just say relaxed approach of the French.

There are mass graves throughout Rwanda being uneartherd almost every month which is not surprising. Over a million people were murdered and its a small country. What is most striking is the similarity of the propaganda and speeches that were given by the previous regime to those from 1930’s Germany. Its not just a passing semblance, even down to the phrases that were used.

Most of the trouble on the border with Congo is caused by the legacy of that genocide. The French shepherded the perpetrators to safety and allowed them to cross into Congo where they still are. Now that the rebels there seem to be close to ending their current campaign many of them will inevitably return to Rwanda. What happens then is a challenge. Equally those low level foot soldiers who killed and received 15 year sentences automatically are going to be released having served those sentences next year. Another challenge.

Yesterday I was talking to a group of 15 women about the moments that the trauma comes back to them. Events like marriages when obviously parents are not there if they were orphaned. Little things like that. I’m probably coming back here to Rwanda in March to do some filming for the 15th anniversary of the genocide.

And to think we don't appreciate what we have. I trust Shepherd's Bush is keeping well!

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