Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Rwanda and Uganda, first 2 weeks.

Writing here is a bit more difficult than I thought because the internet connection isn't very good. With that being said here is a bit about the last couple of weeks of my life.
Day 1-3
The Flight was good, we spent the first night here on campus at UCU (Uganda Christian College). Then we were thrown right into our homestays. I ended up getting paired with an American, his name is Emanuel from Boston. We are wearing matching clothes today, pretty cute. My homestay family is amazing. Mamma Idah is the head of the house, she is a widow that cares for 14 children. She has 5 of her own but treats them all like they are hers. There is a boy who is 1 year and a half, Ronnie. Ronnie was so scared of my and my whiteness for the first few days, but now he is a good friend. There are two tea times each day and that is amazing. The food is good. The staple is matoke, which is mashed plantain, we eat it at every meal.

Rwanda- I do not know if I can really touch too much on this subject right now... It is probably the most beautiful yet painful place that I have ever been. I saw thousands of bodies in tombs, and reminders of the genocide that still cut deep. ok ok I will put up something that I wrote about this trip.

There he was, running with a smile on his face- a giant photo in a sorrowful room. His name, Patrick, he was 5. Patrick was massacred with a machete in 1994. This is Rwanda, a land of a thousand hills and a history filled of hate and revival.In 1935 something began in an area of Rwanda known as the Gahini Diocese. This wind driven fire of awe and repentence came to be known as the East African Revival. We got to meet a woman who saw visions and walked hundreds of miles into Tanzania and Burundi to spread this inferno.Hundreds of years ago two main groups of Rwandans emerged: Tutsi and Hutu. These were socio-economical lines for they shared the same language, stories, and customs. The difference may have been genetic but most likely not. Simply put Tutsi's owned cattle and Hutu's grew crops. Tutsi's were the elite, cheifs and such. Hutu's outnumbered Tutsi's because there is need for more farmers. (ratio claimed to be 9 to 1, but was later discovered to be a repressive false number).The French originally colonized Rwanda, but after WW1 the almighty League of Nations gave it to Belgum. The Belgian's favored the Tutsi since they were community leaders and were loyal to their colonizers. Tutsi came to be known by the Belgians as supperior ethnically. By this point the Tutsi assuredly oppressed the Hutu. The tables turned when in 1959 the Tutsi king died and Hutus began to massacre Tutsi. (By this point they had ID cards that distinguished the two thanks to Belgum.) In 1961 and 1962 a Hutu was elected in a new 1 party system. Independence.Between 1959-1973 700,000 Tutsi are expelled from Rwanda which the Belgian governtment now supported (since Hutu had the new control of power) and simply labeled it good ethnic cleansing. These displaced people settled along the border areas of Uganda and the DRC. Many massacres took place up until 1993 directed at the remaining Tutsi (Probably 2 million or so). In Uganda a rebel Tutsi force was building, led by an American trainned general (the now president of Rwanda) they were called the RPF. In 1993 France sold the Hutu extremist govenment of Rwanda 12$ million in weapons and others bought millions of machetes from India.The Hutu president of Rwanda had a clique of about 10 close members , mostly his in-laws. For years anti-tutsi propaganda had been spewed. In schools there were the 10 commandments of Hutus, mostly about the horrible Tutsi's. There were math problems that were taught, "if you have 5 Tutsi's and you kill 3, how many do you have?" The convinced the Hutu that the Tutsi were going to kill them, then they dehumanized them by giving them names like cockroach. This made killing easier.April 6, 1994. The president of Rwanda and the newly elected president of Burundi were flying into Kigali and their plane was hit by a missle (to this day no one knows who did it, which side). Within an hour Hutu soldiers had set up roadblocks where they would check for ID cards and would kill all Tutsi. So it began. 1 American Adventist Missionary remained (not another American in the whole country). There was 1 troop of UN peacekeepers. The world stepped back and in 1 week 100,000 were slaughtered. The UN said Never again after the Holocaust. Machete, guns, grenades, spears, clubs with nails, kitchen utencils, fire, children's necks brken, childrens thrown against the wall, eyes gouged out in infants, rape and killed, rape with HIV, spears from vagina out through the head, babies cut out of moms.... 100 days...1 million Tutsi and moderate moderates were killed. But not 1 genocide, over a million individual murders by neighbors, friends, and family. Patrick was only one, but that is a life that God loves so freaking much, and went through pain to forgive the murderer, even if it was Patricks own dad. There was Charles, a man who gave us a tour of Nyamata church where 10, 000 were slaughtered. So while I was sitting in a 3rd gade class when he (the same age) watched his parents limbs cut off and his brothers head cut off. He lived for 3 days covreed in blood that his brother had put him in to save his life, hiding under dead bodies. Bodies of family and neighbors.At this church we saw stacks of clothes cut off of victims. We went into a tomb full of bones, skulls lined up, some with perfect hammer head holes, others with machete marks, others with faces completely bashed in, some burnt, and alot of children. The smell was aweful with some flesh deteriorating a decade and a half later.We have heard of reconciliation as well. I cannot eve begin to explain how much respect I have for these people and how far they have come since neighbor slaughtered neighbor. I have learned the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation. Reconciliation is not always necessary, but in a country that is so small and densely populated it is a must. They have set up Gacaca courts which are traditional courts where judges are elected by the village and have trails for the Genocide with reduced sentences for full confession. The courts are winding up and there have been over a million cases. These murderers have mostly all been released back into the very neighborhoods that they have committed atrocities against. Yet this place remains the most beautiful place that I have ever been. (If anything it is the first place that I have held hands seriously with a man in public and it was normal)Over the past week I have spoken in church, been in awe of smoggy sunrises, seen tombs of over 200,000 bodies, listened to some of the cooles holistically empowering missionaries speak, watched Genocide and AIDS orphans make cards to be sold in the US, debated relief and development, talked reconciliation,listened to judged, worshiped God, and cried. I will definitely never forget this time in this tiny country.

Back in Uganda- So we are back in Uganda and school has started and it is awesome. I love the dialy thunderstorms and the craziness of the cities here. But I need to go do some homework..

With Love, BJ

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