Rwanda: The Road to Muramba
When I get in the car, or more often a 4x4, the vehicle of choice of international NGOs, I never know where it will take me.
All along the way, people walk next to the road. Many have no shoes. A boy carries a small black goat. A woman walks very straight with a basket on her head, filled with beans or sweet potatoes to be given as a gift to a friend during a visit. There are children in school uniforms with too big yellow or green plastic shoes on their way home from school. Women with plastic buckets or ceramic pots on their heads. Men with yellow plastic containers in their hands. Women with bright umbrellas for the sun or the rain.
The road goes from smooth and paved to asphalt with mudslides to rural dirt. Sometimes the car is close to the edge of a drop off. I stop looking down. Through the hills, bumpy. My friend says this is the part of the road that makes us dance in the car. The rain does not start until we arrive three hours later. I am glad that we were not on the road when it was slippery with mud.
It’s impossible not to think as we’re driving through this very small country of the genocide. They call it “the war.” “After the war this and such happened. We were in the other country, the Congo, for 6 years.” During the war, the majority Hutus tried to address “the Tutsi problem” by killing them all. And their families. And sympathizers. And the educated. One million dead. Everyone here was impacted. Women were raped to deliberately infect them with HIV/AIDS. Ministers began to carry clubs. The world turned upside down, and the unthinkable happened.
The country has done tremendous work to heal, but the vestiges, of course, are still here. There are ongoing weekly gacaca (gachacha) courts, in which people accept their actions and ask for forgiveness, or are condemned by witnesses to their actions and sent to prison.
It doesn’t feel as if anything happened here, but, of course, it did.