Monday December 1st – Kigali

I spent the day in a series of meetings organised by Evode Mukama, our local partner in Rwanda. Evode is currently finishing his PhD in Sweden (on ‘The Pedagogy of ICT’) and will then become a full time lecturer in the Department of Education at the National University of Rwanda (NUR) where it is rumoured he will be the next Dean. When I met him today I presumed he was in his mid-20s and was subsequently shocked to hear that he celebrated his 40th birthday this year. Evode played football in Rwanda’s premier league when he was younger but gave it up to become a teacher. He fled to Uganda in 1994 at the height of the genocide and taught sports and French at a secondary school there. I desperately want to hear his full story but do not know him well enough yet to ask. In any case I feel humbled to have met him.

Even though Kigali is a modern city and everyone has been very friendly I remain acutely conscious of the events which happened here only 14 years ago. The topic of genocide remains the ultimate ‘elephant in the room’, everyone knows it is there but no one wants to talk about it. If you ask people whether they are Hutu or Tutsi they say Rwandan, even though 85% of the population remain Hutu. I look at the older people in the street and ask myself, ‘Did they participate in the Genocide?’ I also see many people with missing limbs and
wonder if they were the victims?

I have started to read more about the role of the colonial powers in setting the ground work for the ethnic hatred that was at the core of the Genocide and about the lack of action by them when they knew what
was happening. In case we should forget our leaders at the time – Clinton, Major, Mitterrand, Kohl and Annan to name but a few.
In other news my money has been sorted so I plan to splash out on a serious meal this evening.