Tuesday, July 12, 2011

"Sister! I make you good price."

Thursday, July 7

Today, we had the opportunity to visit an open market in Kigali. Exciting! There were so many sights and sounds and smells; it was unlike anywhere I have ever been. First, there were the long sheds that housed counters covered with vegetables, fruits, mounds of flour on burlap sacks, piles of beans and other dry goods, etc., etc., etc. There was also an adorable small child playing on a barrel by the street, but I didn't take a picture because I didn't want to offend his mother, wherever she was. Speaking of which, some of the Africans in the market asked another student to pay them to take pictures, so I didn't want to take many pictures for fear the people would think I was trying to get shots of them. I did try to surreptitiously take a picture of the market as we walked by, but I failed miserably:

Along the side of the market were small shops and carts loaded down with imported goods, from backpacks to cell phones to "Barbarry" watches. Of course, I wasn't interested in that stuff; I can go to Wal-Mart when I get home. I was very interested in the plethora of fabrics at the market, however. Many of us (mostly the girls) want to get some traditional Rwandan clothes made for our "Closing Ceremonies" at the end of the program. Right now, it is scheduled for the third week, but as some of us are leaving earlier, our professor is trying to change it. I decided to wait on buying any fabric, but here's a sample of some of the gorgeous patterns:

Behind the fabrics and jewelry was the meat area. AKA: Carcasses were hanging everywhere. Yum yum! Overall, I loved being at the market, but I was really uncomfortable with the shopping process. Women were constantly calling to me, "Sister! Sister!" and waving me into their specific areas. It was hard to say no because they all sounded so excited. One woman even started to cut a piece of fabric that I liked, and I had to tell her, "No! No! I don't know yet..." at which point she made a pouty face. I know I just need to get over it, but I think I'll stick to sticker prices for a while.

There was a huge stack of colorful mattresses across the street. I just thought it was funny and worth a picture.

Genocide and the Holocaust

To completely switch tactics, our first lecture on Thursday (before the market in the afternoon) was about Holocaust (and genocide) denial. It still blows my mind that people genuinely believe the Holocaust didn't happen. I assumed everyone had to believe the genocide of the Tutsi really occurred because of how much video and other evidence we have from 1994, but there are those who insist it did not exist. And I don't just mean that it wasn't a genocide - I know that's a very loaded word - but that there are people that don't think mass killing occurred at all.

After the lecture, we got into a discussion about the Holocaust compared to the Rwandan genocide. I didn't speak up in class, but I will share my thoughts now. Some people argued the world "cares more" about the Holocaust because the Jews were white, and people identify more with their brothers than their neighbors. Others mentioned that the Holocaust lasted longer and killed more people. I, however, think the Holocaust is mentioned more in history (at least in American curriculum) because it occurred in Western Europe. Africa has historically been perceived as "uncivilized" and "savage" by the rest of the world, so I think many people (especially older historians and educators) "expect" mass killing in Africa, but they don't expect it from somewhere as "civilized" and urban as Western Europe. Sorry to use so many quotation marks in this paragraph, but I want to stress this is obviously not my belief; I know Africa is civilized. But those are the traditional views held by the Western world, which are hopefully changing in today's society.

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