"Too beautiful to be this violent" Rwanda by etfromnc

Rwanda Travel Guide: 400 reviews and 1,510 photos

When I lived in Maryland in the 1990s, the Baptist churches of Maryland and Delaware had a partnership with the churches of Rwanda for both comunity development and spiritual enrichment. Just a few months after I arrived in Maryland, a delegation from Rwanda visited our church for about two weeks. I seemed to bond with a member of their team named Vincent (pron., van-SOHNT[French]). Little did I realize just how close we would become. Several months later, I had the opportunity to be part of a team from Maryland and Delaware which spent three weeks in Rwanda. The Americans paired up and went to many villages throughout Rwanda with a Rwandan leader/guide/interpreter. Our Rwandan partner was Vincent and we literally spent 18 of the next 21 nights sleeping in a tent which was barely wide enough to accommodate three adult sleeping bags side-by-side. One of the community development projects which we sponsored was an improvement to their waste disposal systems; i. e., we sent money ahead of our trip to pay to have people dig latrines and build outhouses over them.
One of several objectives for our trip was to try to build bridges between the Hutus and the Tutsis, two tribes which have been warring for centuries in central Africa. In fact part of the origin of the nations of Rwanda and Burundi was to allow each of these two tribes to have a homeland which they call their own. Somehow, it seemed that in the early '90s, the more populous tribe in each of those countries was the group politically on the "outside." In Rwanda, the majority Hutu were generally peasants and the aristocratic Tutsis were generally the ruling class, but the president during our visit was a Hutu. He had taken power in a military coup in 1973 but was elected in democratic (?) elections five years later and governed the country until his assassination in 1994.
Sixteen years ago (6 April 1994), Hutu extremists shot down an airplane near the Kigali (capital city of Rwanda) International Airport which was carrying Juvenal Habyarimani, president of Rwanda, and Cyprien Ntaryamira, president of Burundi. This proved to be the beginning of an unbelievably brutal civil war which resulted in over a million deaths in 100 days. Three weeks into the carnage, on 28 April, the US Department of State and the United Nations both refused to call the killing "genocide." To have made such a declaration would have obligated the UN to "prevent and punish" those responsible. Such a declaration might have cost a few UN casualties but can we imagine how many of those million Rwandan deaths might have been prevented?
In the relatively small town of Nyamata, about 27 km south of Kigali, 10,000 Rwandans were killed on 7 April, one single day, the day after the airplane carrying the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi was shot down.

  • Last visit to Rwanda: Oct 1992
  • Intro Updated May 18, 2010
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Comments (1)

  • afrette's Profile Photo
    Sep 14, 2008 at 11:09 AM

    I tune in to see what you wrote about my wonderful Africa on this page and find not a word! Rwanda is a part I have never been to and so am particularly interested. You write beautifully, please don't deprive me and other Africophiles of this treat!


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