The Rage in Rwanda

11 Apr

I am beginning a series of posts based on the book The Good News About Injustice by Gary Haugen.
Check out his site and here is a link to a talk he gave recently if you want to check it out.

Wouldn’t it be odd to find yourself in the middle of your day doing what you usually do, whether that be jogging, drinking coffee at Starbucks or having dinner with your family yet register in your mind that 48 short hours ago you stood in the middle of a mass execution site? This is how Gary Haugen begins the first chapter of his book. In a small African country called Rwanda, during a 6 week period approximately half a million defenseless women and children were hacked to death by their nighbors in the towns and villages in Rwanda. It was during the spring of 1994.

In 1994 I was an eighth grader and Woodbridge middle school. I was playing baseball and just trying not to embarass myself in front of girls. The worst thing that I could ever imagine growing up would be giving an audible book report. Perhaps I heard bits and pieces during this time about the genocide in Rwanda but I honestly can’t remember. In the authors words, “it seemed true, but not real-not to me…not real like my kids when they are sick, not real like my job when I am behind in my work, not real like my neighbors when one of them has been in a car accident, not even real like my Midwestern compatriots when they have been flooded out of their homes.”p24

In ’94 Gary was on loan from the U.S. Department of Justice to help investigate this massacre. His job was to go to the largest mass execution sites and try to accurately record what happened. His first stop, the biggest church in town. Defensless women, children, mothers and grandmothers came here seeking asylum only to be hacked and clubbed to death in a “murderous binge of torture and slaughter just a few months” before he arrived.

If you are like me and didn’t know too much about geopolitical activities when you were in middle school here is a recap of what set off the fireworks:
-On April 6th, 1994, the president of Rwanda was killed in a mysterious plane crash in Kigali, the capital city.
-There had always been annymosity between the Hutu and the Tutsis.
-The Hutu’s claimed that the Tutsis had killed their president and now were on a rampage so the Hutu’s within the government and military joined with extremist Hutu paramilitary groups, citizen milia and local mobs started hunting down andkilling the Tutsis in their communities.
-On April 17th, the church massacre took place as the provincial governor and mayor ordered the Tutsis to the church for saftey only to declare after their arrival their, war. Then “Working largely with machetes, metal rods, spears and wooden clubs with nails partially embedded at the head, the mob cut the Tutsis-men, women and children-down by the hundreds and bludgeoned them to death.

Now there was something about being there that changed it from being just true, to real. He explains:

“In truth each body, now dull and limp in the mud, was actually a unique bearer of the very image of God, a unique creation of the divine Maker, individually knit within a mother’s womb by the Lord of the universe. For as difficult as it was to imagine, each crumple mortal frame had indeed come from a mother, one single mother who somewhere in time had wept tears of joy and aspiration over her precious child-a child endowed with the mysterious spark of Adam and an immortal soul. We would never number all the mother’s children in these mass graves, but their Father in heaven had numbered even the very hairs of their heads.”p29

Future posts on the way…


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