Lucia has something to say

Monday, March 26, 2007

Still Thinking about Rwanda

Why did the world close its eyes for so long to the suffering of so many helpless people? Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that what happened in Rwanda defies comprehension, defies explanation, and defies all conventional remedies. Perhaps it is because there is no frame of reference for such a cataclysmic event. It is too complex, too remote, too unthinkable.
- Rosamond Halsey Carr in Land of a Thousand Hills
I've been reading everything I can get my hands on about Rwanda. I keep trying to understand why. Why did everything spin out of control? And the more I read, the closer I come to believing there is no why. There's no answer. It's time for me to accept that.

I wrote a newsletter article at work today about basket makers in Rwanda. What I see in my head is a woman walking along the road with a lidded basket balanced on her head. It may contain bananas, millet, or sweet potatoes--a gift for a neighbor, a family member, or a newly married bride. Lidded baskets are rooted deeply in the country’s history. Made of coiled sisal, the designs and techniques are passed from mother to daughter. From mother to daughter. From mother to daughter.

Life in Rwanda goes on. Children play. Women get water. Crops are harvested. You can't tell that a genocide happened when you're there.

Everything. Seems. So normal.


Blogger OhTheJoys said...

Did you read "We wish to inform you that tomorrow..." It is from a number of years back, written by a NYT reporter whose name I can't remember this instant... but I could not put it down.

7:52 PM  
Blogger Lucia said...

Yep, joys, I read that and pretty much everything else out there. (Author is Philip Gourevitch. It's still sitting here.)

8:02 PM  
Blogger meno said...

It's creepy that despite what happened there, it all looks normal. I would expect the very land to be crying out still.

8:04 PM  
Blogger Gordo said...

I keep running away from and to Shake Hands With the Devil. The very idea of the West again sitting idle while one ethnic group attempts to exterminate another makes my blood boil and my soul weep.

9:08 PM  
Blogger Girlplustwo said...

I just finished reading Left To Tell, about a woman who lived in a bathroom for months with 6 other women. she lost everything she knew.

heartbreaking. you are right. how can we not.

10:37 PM  
Blogger QT said...

I think about events like these too, and constantly question why. It is so hard to wrap my mind around the killing, and the maiming.

Everything seems so normal because death is such a natural part of our world. We just abhor it, as any living being does.

I would love to see the baskets. I just went to Whole Foods in Madison last weekend (can you say ZOO!) and saw there was a basket display there, with an educational video playing, but I couldn't get close enough and was pressed for time. I know they are African in origin, but I want to say they were from Nigeria?

7:07 AM  
Blogger Mona Buonanotte said...

In quiet moments, I wonder if what happened in Rwanda could ever happen closer to home, and what I would do about it. It makes me sad. And even sadder that it really did happen somewhere in this world, while we sit idly by with our $4 coffees and iPods blaring.

Priorities. Huh.

8:22 AM  
Blogger Susan as Herself said...

I have seen those baskets---absolutely beautiful. And so practical. I love that they are made by hard-working hands for specific tasks.

1:16 PM  
Blogger Bobealia... said...

It's amazing how resilient people are. I think emotionally there must still be an impact...??

1:41 PM  
Blogger thailandchani said...

This is what I wandered over for. :) I know so painfully little about the actual political situation in Rwanda.

I have a fairly standard answer to most of this stuff and you already know what it is. Where capitalism rears its ugly head, misery is soon evident.



6:55 PM  

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