More Top Stories

Editor's Pick
Editor's Pick

TB cases detected

1 June 2024

Sports
Court

Alleged rapist in remand

27 April 2024

National
Rugby league

Moana target 2025 World Cup

11 November 2022

Shocking genocide remembered

Monday 24 October 2016 | Published in Local

Share

Shocking genocide remembered
Tupapa resident Derek Fox this week represented the Cook Islands Media Association at a congress for press clubs from the African, Carribean and Pacific countries (ACP), in Rwanda, East Africa. Rwanda is probably best known for a tragic civil war 22 years ago, when one of the country's principal ethnic groups, the Hutus, set about murdering their Tutsi countrymen. An estimated 800,000 people were killed in the ensuing attempted genocide. Fox reports on an emotional visit to the Rwanda Genocide Memorial in Kigali, Rwanda's capital. I REMEMBER a few years ago going to a tangi in New Zealand where they had six coffins on the marae. They contained the tupapaku of a car load of people, including a baby, who were all killed when they ran off the road into a tree on their way home from a party in the early hours of the morning near Hiruharama marae south of Ruatoria. They were lying side by side on the Hiruharama marae. It was very sad, tragic. I remember even earlier waking through the Commonwealth forces cemetery at Cassino in Italy and searching out the Maori names on their headstones. But none of that compares to what I've just seen. I've just come back from the Rwanda Genocide Memorial in Kigali - the capital of Rwanda. I'm with a bunch of senior journalists from all over Africa, the Carribean and handful of us (five) from the Pacific. They can be a noisy bunch, talking animatedly in any one of a dozen or so languages as well as French or English. But from the time they rolled a short film in the small cinema at the entrance of the museum and burial ground, the only noise they made was the shuffling of feet punctuated by occasional deep breathes, sniffing and stifled sobs. The movie shows survivors of the genocidal massacre talking about watching their parents and other members of their families being butchered and then describing how they escaped; about the effects of that madness that prompted Hutus egged on by senior leaders and propaganda broadcast on the local TV and radio, to go out and attack, mutilate, torture, rape and murder their Tutsi neighbours and in some cases, friends and family. The burial ground contains the remains of more than 250,000 people. The museum tells the story of how it happened, its seeds going back to colonial times when first Germany then Belgium ruled Rwanda. The Catholic church, or at least some of its priests, were part of the mix too. The pictures and stories are horrific. It is almost inconceivable that humans could do that to other humans, but they did. Last, but definitely not least, at the end of the exhibition, in an upstairs area that I was willing to skip given it had been a long day; but which I was almost forced or shamed into visiting by the young museum staff, is the children's section. It contains dozens of photos of young kids. Some are barely toddlers, others are up to 10 years old. The exhibits are simple, but deadly effective. They have a picture of the child and then pose a set list of questions with the answer alongside: Name and age, what their favour toy was, favourite food, the name of their best friend - often a sibling, what they liked doing, What their last words or sights were – and and how they died. As we left on the bus the mood was heavy and sad, the more so when we realised that the young people showing us around were all genocide survivors, some of whom are the only remaining members of their entire families. There's a big dinner and celebration on tonight to mark the opening of the Kigali Press Club. A few years back I would probably have been into that boots and all. Local dancers will be performing, but I decided not to go. I wanted to get back and write this while it is still fresh in my mind. Maybe if you've got little kids and mokos, the last exhibit is a little harder to take. Kia ora - stay well.

Tupapa resident Derek Fox this week represented the Cook Islands Media Association at a congress for press clubs from the African, Carribean and Pacific countries (ACP), in Rwanda, East Africa. Rwanda is probably best known for a tragic civil war 22 years ago, when one of the country’s principal ethnic groups, the Hutus, set about murdering their Tutsi countrymen.

Tupapa resident Derek Fox this week represented the Cook Islands Media Association at a congress for press clubs from the African, Carribean and Pacific countries (ACP), in Rwanda, East Africa. Rwanda is probably best known for a tragic civil war 22 years ago, when one of the country’s principal ethnic groups, the Hutus, set about murdering their Tutsi countrymen.


To continue reading this article and to support our journalism

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE NOW
for as little as $11 per month.

- Up to date and breaking news
- Includes access to Premium content
- Videos and online classifieds

Already a subscriber, click here

Our people. Our news. First.