Thursday, July 21, 2011

Rwanda Part III - Kigali

On Saturday morning (after 12 hours of sleep necessitated by my big hike), we left Ruhengeri and headed to the capital city of Kigali.  Once again we drove through a beautiful mountain range with fantastic views.

Upon arrival in Kigali we went straight to the Genocide Memorial Center & Museum.  It was important to all of us that we get a chance to learn about the event and its history.  The center is made up of extensive memorial gardens as well as a museum detailing the history of Rwanda from the pre-colonial times to the colonial era under Germany and Belgium, and then from the post-colonial rule through the 1994 genocide.

The memorial gardens are home to tombs where 250,000 victims of the genocide are buried.  Mass graves are being discovered to this day and bodies are still being interred here.

While I knew about some aspects of the genocide, the museum gave a in-depth chronicle of the political factors leading up to it and the horrors of the event itself.  While Bill Clinton and Kofi Annan now say that not interfering in Rwanda (and in Annan's case ignoring a telegram from General Romeo Dallaire that warned of the genocide) are some of their biggest regrets, it is so hard to fathom the failure of the international community to intervene.  The whole visit was emotionally exhausting but so necessary in beginning to comprehend what occurred.  I am planning on reading more about the events, starting with Dallaire's Shake Hands with the Devil.  Below, photos of some of the one million victims of the genocide.

After nearly three hours at the memorial we went on a short tour of the city.  As we had heard from many people, Kigali is very modern and well-designed with lots of new buildings and fantastic infrastructure.  This is due in part to the to the huge amount of international investment that has poured in since 1994, and to the government's commitment to re-building and modernizing.  Here is the view of downtown from the memorial garden.

In all, our trip to Rwanda was exciting (hello Mt. Bisoke) and eye-opening.  One day I would love to return for more than four days and explore the rest of the country.  Below, as seen on our city tour, Hotel Mille Collines - the real Hotel Rwanda.

Photos by Oh MG.

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