Sunday, July 17, 2011

Echoes of peace.

Monday, July 11

After a busy and emotional weekend, we returned to our normal schedule of morning lectures at IGSC. The religious discussions weren't over, though, as our speakers today included a Catholic priest and a Presbyterian minister. I had really been looking forward to hearing from members of the religious community, especially after how little the churches did for the Tutsi during the genocide, but I was really disappointed by the priest's presentation. First, he was extremely difficult to understand, so I didn't catch most of what he was saying. Second, I felt his points were very convoluted, and he seemed to be trying to dodge blame to the extent he wasn't very helpful in his explanations when students asked questions.

One strange thing that came out of the lecture was the idea that genocide is not a sin in the Catholic Church. Maybe I missed that part of the presentation (like I said, he was difficult to understand, which therefore made it hard for me to concentrate), but I'm pretty sure that is inaccurate. After all, if murder is a sin (and it definitely is), why wouldn't murdering thousands of people of a single ethnicity be a sin? I think he was trying to say that the Catholic Church as an institution did not accept responsibility for the genocide, but it wasn't presented that way. As I already mentioned, I believe in personal responsibility, and I don't think it's the Church's fault that some priests decided to betray their congregations any more than I blame the Church when a priest decides to molest a little boy, but I don't think he presented his argument very well.

While looking for pictures for this post, I stumbled upon this interesting article comparing the Pope's reaction to Irish priests who have molested children to priests who led massacres during the genocide.

The altar at Nyamata Church, which we visited yesterday, surrounded by victims' clothing.

Strawberry Fanta!

And on to less serious and more touristy topics....

After lunch, several of us went to the open market to get fabric for our closing ceremony dresses.  I was able to get two meters of a "traditional"-looking green, yellow and blue print (the colors of the Rwandan flag) for 2,500 francs. I tried to negotiate down, but failed. Oh well, most of the shopkeepers had been starting at at least 3,000, so I still thought I got a good deal. After purchasing our fabric, we went to visit a tailor. At least, I thought we were visiting a tailor. Instead, we picked her up in a very crowded area of Kigali and pulled into a small parking lot so she could fit us on the bus.

Amusing? Yes. Hot? Definitely yes.

Because my roommate Kiela and I are leaving during the third week and still didn't know if the closing ceremonies were being rescheduled for earlier, we opted not get something made and just fashion ourselves a toga if needed. (The toga-making skill is only one of the many benefits of being in a sorority. Ha.) While everyone else was being fitted in the bus, we left with Colbey (another roommate) to walk around this new area of the city.

During all our meals so far in Rwanda, our beverage options have been: Coca Cola, Citron Fanta, Fiesta Fanta (grape), Orange Fanta, Sprite and water. We had heard of the elusive Strawberry Fanta, but hadn't had the opportunity to try it yet. While strolling down the street, we found some! And purchased it, of course. With a chocolate bar. Yum. And drank it. And took pictures of this fabulous experience.

Kiela got a Coke. And now she regrets it. Lame.

Art After the Genocide

Our evening schedule was a little different today in that we had another classroom meeting before dinner. We had two guest speakers/performances visit us. First, we heard from a group that makes documentary films about the genocide. They spoke briefly about the process and then we watched their most recent film, which included interviews with survivors of the genocide.

The second presentation, a Rwandan theater group called Mashirika, was amazing. The woman who led the informational presentation was very well spoken, and the performance itself was unbelievably touching. It was a kind of interpretative storytelling, for lack of a better term, in which one young woman recited a monologue about the genocide as another young woman and two men danced slowly behind her. The story wasn't her own, but she performed it so well I didn't realize that until the end. She spoke of seeing the river full of Tutsi bodies, including an infant caught against a rock. Her voice rose to almost unbearable levels as she asked:

"What kind of man would kill a baby? A man like you?
Or a man like me?"

After the monologue, the female dancer in the background began singing a gorgeous (and surprisingly uplifting) song called "Echoes of Peace." I'm going to try to find it for my iPod; it was that good. It was definitely the best session we had at the CNLG building so far.

I found this poster on Mashirika's website. This particular quote really hit me during the slide show we watched before their performance. Also, the man in this poster was one of the dancers we saw.

No comments: