On our first day in Rwanda we went to the Kigali Genocide Memorial. It was a heavy way to start our trip, but an important stop. The museum is very well-designed. It not only honours victims and survivors, but also educates people about how something like this happened, and how it could have been prevented.
I didn’t know many details about the 1994 genocide prior to the visit. What I learned was even more tragic than I imagined. In a nutshell (and I’m over-simplying), some foreign anthropologists came into Rwanda and started classifying people according to their appearance and how many cows they had. Then some horrible politicians amplified those differences and fueled hatred. Though there were many warning signs, the international community basically ignored them/didn’t want to get involved. When the killings started, neighbours brutally murdered their former friends, raped women with the intention of giving them HIV, and many other horrible details that I will spare you. Entire families were wiped out. Millions of people were killed. To this day, Rwandans still don’t like dogs as everyone saw the abandoned pets eating the corpses in the street to survive – bodies that were certainly friends or family. Everyone in the country was affected one way or another.
As we read the translations of political propaganda and quotes from polititians at the time, it was impossible not to think of the hatred and violence Trump (and the media) is fueling. I sincerely hope the US can unite before some horrible atrocity unfolds. Though as the museum pointed out, the killings were conducted one by one… I hope we don’t look back on tragedies like the Orlando or Dallas shootings as the beginning of something worse.