Abroad in Africa -Genocide and Aftermath

Hey there folks. Haven’t written in a while, so I thought that you might want to see an article that I had published in my school newspaper.

“Well, the thing is, that probably no more than 500,000 people were killed.” John Floyd leaned forward, took another bite of his kung pao chicken, and attempted to explain why his client was not guilty of helping to incite the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

I listened with distaste and fascination while he spoke fast. The distaste came because I knew the facts-his client, Hasan Ngeze was the publisher of a newspaper that exhorted people to kill their neighbors. There is no question what the paper said, Ngeze was a brutal and clever person, one of the chief instigators of the genocidal regime. The fascination came because his version of Rwandan history was much different than I had learned before I arrived in Rwanda. At this point, I was not sure what to believe.

Here are the facts: on April 6th, 1994 a plane carrying the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi was shot down just outside of Kigali International Airport. Who shot it down was in dispute, but what is not in dispute is that […read more…]

The Foothills of Mt. Meru

This is a bit out of order-but Saturday was so spectacular that I must write about it.

Saturday morning, Joe from Ireland (who I met on a bus from Uganda), but now staying in Moshi, arrived for the weekend. We decided to go to the foothills of Mt. Meru to see where Elly grew up and to meet his parents. After taking a dala dala, we arrived at the bottom of the hill where we jumped in the back of the truck and rode as far as the road could take us. We walked on a dirt path, with banana trees surrounding us and came to Elly’s farm.

Farms here are absolutely different. They are so colourful, so many different types of fruit. I’d have to say my top three favorite fruit are passion fruit, mangos and avacado. So we sat and talked with Elly’s parents and sister, walked around the farm, saw how they cook with no electricity and how they survive on what they have. We went to see his coffee plantation and fruit trees and then came back to eat with his parents. The food was spectacular as food always is… We had milk from his cow […read more…]

Rwanda to the Congo to Uganda to the Media Trial

I’m back and I haven’t written in so long because we’ve been traveling a lot. I’ll have to come back to add more about some of the things I’ve seen-some of the horrible horrible atrocities I’ve witnessed to some of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen, but right now I’ll update you with this short time briefly what I experienced.

Rwanda: I saw a lot of dead bodies. Witnessed a lot of places where thousands upon thousands were slaughtered. I supposed I should say that we travelled throughout a lot of the country and saw many places where people have and are still being slaughtered. Also, a lot of literature is one sided and now I know a second side which was, at first, difficult to believe.

Congo: I saw Goma, a city of lava. Went to a refugee camp for people from Rwanda and the Congo which was as I expected. People packed on top of each other for years. Where is all the money going? Oh, that’s right-into the pockets of the UN, IGO’s, NGO’s and their brand new cars, houses, vacations, etc.

Also, I swam in Lake Kivu which was like bath water because of the […read more…]

Kigali, Rwanda

We arrived in Kigali last night. I am really emotional everytime I really think about what happened, and I find myself looking for that same displaced feeling I finally found days after I went to Oswiecim Concentration Camp in Poland. I’m publishing something Brian wrote because he grasps the feelings brilliantly.

Brian O’Neill

June 18th, 8:30 pm

Sitting on the balcony of the hotel. It is not late, but it is dark and I’m tired and the heart of Kigali shines subdued below. Yes, so: we’re here. Rwanda. It seems strange to finally be here; to see it. I’ve pictured it so many times, in so many ways – a tiny spot on a map, a detalied map, it’s hills, Kigali. I’ve imagined what it looks like, imagined myself here, imagined the genocide. And now I’m looking at it, finally.

The sun set as our minibus flew around the hills leading from the border. Dark came hard and fast. The headlights would shine momentarily on an object efore speeding on- endless lush greenery, punctuated for an instant by a face, freeze-frame body caught walking or staring or talking. It would catch houses, ne alone, or several in a row, some […read more…]

Stars from this side of the world

I suppose I should start talking about what happened in my last entry-the blackout. The computers stayed on for a few minutes after the blackout, long enough for me to send the last line. Then the batteries died and there was pure darkness.

Pitch black. Not just one “block,” as we would experience in the U.S., but the entire city was out. The only light in our path was the African night sky and a half moon, that looked like an eclipse. Brian and I walked two French grrrls to the Kilimanjaro hotel and then we moved toward our building. The neon signs that lit up the hotel next to ours were no longer our marker. I could barely make out the outline of my hand and I heard voices around me from time to time. A few more meters and I stopped, “I want a taxi.” I suddenly felt very unsafe and although we only had to cross the park to get to our destination, I wouldn’t move. It’s not safe for muzungus to walk around at night-the words spoken by Africans and other Internationals echoed in my head. Something could really happen right now. My stupidity of walking […read more…]

My African Home

Perhaps it is because my family moved around so much that I never mind being away. Or perhaps I’ve become older and I know that I have to find my own life now. Or maybe it is the fact that I have found good times, good friends and exciting new traditions that causes my mood to shift every time I think that eventually I’ll have to leave.

I have returned. Before I left on this trip, my parents explained to their friends that I was not going to Africa, but instead, I was returning.

Electric outage. Will write more later.

Massai Traditions and Food Galore!

My objectives in this blog are to write about two things that occured last night. It all focuses on dinner with a Massai and other friends of ours.

Brian and I went to several different places last night. Jambo Cafe, the Police Mess, and Troopers with Marcus, his girlfriend(I haven’t figured out how to spell her name yet), and Philimon. Philimon is a Massai. I was so excited when I found this out because this tradition is so unfamiliar, but so fascinating to me.

I asked many questions and found many things out. One of the most interesting is the circumcision that occurs when a Massai turns 18. Philimon is now a Lutheran, but his father has many wives and he still follows many of the traditions. He, of course, made it clear to me that if he married a Mezungu, he would not force the kids to follow Massai tradition. I reaffirmed his idea and told him that I doubted that a Mezungu would ever allow half of the things that Massai have to go through, happen to her child. For example, the circumcision. Three days before the circumcision, a cow’s artery is punctured so that 3 liters of […read more…]

Pole, Pole

I think the most common phrase I hear is “In Africa everything is pole, pole.” (slow, slow) I like this very much, but only when I’m not in a hurry. :)

If I am looking at a menu and can’t decide, I hear: Pole, pole. I don’t have to rush through my food and I can stay there for hours after and still I hear, pole, pole.

You can decide on things pole pole. At the market, in the library, on the street.

Today, I had coffee with the sisters in the morning before I headed off to the ICTR. When I asked them how many nuns there are in the house, they asked, “in this house?” I said, “yes, here.” Sister Emily Siana replied, “with you, there would be 15.” I laughed. In fact, I laughed harder than I’ve laughed this whole trip with them this morning. They were so much fun.

At the ICTR, I read Akayesu’s case-what a blast. Ok-not really. I actually was so horrified at the things that he participated in that I had to put the book down several times, go look at something else, and come back to it. I see that my […read more…]

Hakuna Matata

Abari ja mchana (Good afternoon)

500 million years ago, volcanoes erupted, creating the Rift Wall. This is one of the many incredible sites that I saw this weekend. Along with the Rift Wall, I saw the Rift valley. The fact that God created such spectacular wonders is just outside of the grasp of my reality. Every morning, I woke up and questioned myself. Did I really see what I saw? But, the memories remained and the rolls of film had been used up and there was my evidence of having been to these places.

On Friday, I went to Lake Manyara. On Saturday, Ngorongoro. After deliberation, I decided that I wanted to see Ngorongoro more than the Serengeti. Well, technically, I saw part of the Serengeti, when I went to Oldupai Gorge and the Shifting Sands, but not like a Safari tourist would.

Ngorongoro is the Garden of Eden. I say this, not just because the Tanzanian’s gave it this nickname, but because it is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. I don’t think I could even imagine a place more beautiful than this. Try to think Jurrasic Park X 1000. That’s just a glimpse of […read more…]

Dala Dalas/Kifodis and Mt. Kilimanjaro

Hi! My trip is wrapping up and it’s going to go much quicker starting tomorrow because I’ll be climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. I am so excited about this! The mountain is 5885 meters and it is absolutely freezing at the summit. I’ll be taking the harder route, Machame, a.k.a whiskey route. Please pray for my safety and that I can make it!

Another thing-so, we often take rides in these dala dalas, in Arusha they are also known as Kifodis. These are bus rides packed with as many people as they can possibly fit in. Imagine over 30 people packed into a minivan. Everyone is on top of everyone else. It’s wonderful! Especially when you get to sit on the lap of a very handsome Irish boy! :) Anyway, so Brian has been writing this list of names on the Kifodis. They decorate them with phrases I give you a list of them:

Super Baby Go FBI in Action Go Sox Don’t Spy My Life Baby Face Just Do Them Snow Style I love Spiders Pop in Bob Blood Eagle Lionel Richie Fittest of the Fittest

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