Thursday, April 7

Commemoration of Genocide

Sobbing, wailing, bearing witness to a sense of tragedy beyond my wildest imaginings, my most terrifying nightmare.

Beyond what I could ever perceive as real, I touched into the deep sorrow in the stadium of Peace in Kigali this morning. It became real for me as I heard others scream out in terror, as if their loved ones were being slaughtered right there before their very eyes.

And that did happen...

Still some 17 years later, the pain has not escaped their bodies, and I find myself wondering where one would store the memory a genocide.

We betrayed them and walked away, flew away back to our white skinned privileged nations.
I inquire about reality in a place of genocide. I wonder how the world could stand by and watch it happen, wanting to rather debate the semantics of a word...

When I come back to my room, I find myself praying to the sprits of this land, to allow me to be here. I hear them as I awaken in the pre-light of Rwandan dawn. They have much to say and seem very kind. Happy even. Full of light, which surprised me at the time.

When I was preparing to come here I thought I would be stepping into a dark zone of terrorizing energy, naturally, I thought, seeing how many lives were viciously stolen from bodies.

But then, there's the radiant hibiscus to greet me as I walk out of the airport in Kigali. Welcoming me with sub tropical beauty.

You’d think there was water close by, like in Hawaii, but there’s not. Its land locked, which makes me question the fish I ate last night for dinner. But that’s not what I’m here to write about. I’m here to write about the resilient and beautiful people here and how open their hearts are. I’m here to write about how it feels to be in a nation, a continent of people that we in the US consider disenfranchised. I’m here to write about a resiliency that blows my mind. Cause meeting in mid air, somewhere in that stadium during the Commemoration of Genocide, was peace and truth infused with accountability and a sorrow I hope not another will ever understand. They deeply held one another and without a second guess seemed to be the only support needed.

So what does one say to the young mother with two babies strapped to her body when she asks for money, and you give her one American dollar thinking that’s worth a whole lot here, only to find out it may buy her a bottle of water, no, not even a gallon. What does one do when another young mother sees that gesture and comes up and asks for something. There has got to be more then money that I can give. There's got to me more we can do. I touch her baby and look deep into her eyes. I want to take them home, but there goes my codependent trying to fix someone again.

'Bearing Witness, what does this mean,' I ask myself as I walk back towards the car.

I wonder what a million bodies look like all together in one place…and felt tremendous shock when Genro told me there were maybe 40,000 in that stadium.

I wonder what my presence here actually accomplishes, if anything at all. That somehow I feel better when I wear that purple cloth around my wrist. That somehow that makes me not one of “them.” You know, the ones who left.

As I sit there in that stadium, I wonder what I would have done. "Of course," I think to myself with slight arrogance, "I would not have left on that April day in 1994 when the planes came to take us away." But really, just sitting there in that stadium, amongst the cries of the world, I felt flooded with terror for moments at a time. Could I have stayed and watched as humans were hacked up? As my own life was questioned? Would I have stayed and wore my white skin of privilege thru the streets to be with those who bore the legacy of colonial power? Who would have listened if I would have stayed? Who would have been here in this stadium if more didn’t leave?

I realize there is an inherent sense of guilt I've been carrying around. One that I'm working to shift into positive action, positive potential. As I sit here, I'm reminded of why I sought out Fleet...moving beyond guilt, holding my seat. But still, as I walk through these streets and drink delicious African tea I still wonder what they now think of me.

Yet, after writing this, I see that there's a rare occurrence happening here. One in which I can move about and do what I came here to do: Bear Witness to the full potential of this: the human condition

Not Knowing
Bearing Witness
Loving Action