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Pepperdine | Caruso School of Law

A Fresh Wound

Lauren A.

Today was our first Saturday in Rwanda, and Shelley and I decided to go to the Rwandan Genocide Memorial in Kigali.  We were accompanied on our excursion by one of the daughters of the Rwandan family that we are staying with, a 23-year-old named Grace who has family that died in the genocide.

The museum was an experience. Because I had been to the Holocaust museum, I thought I knew what we were in for, but unlike the Holocaust, that has had time to fade into history, the Rwandan genocide is still such a fresh wound for the Rwandan people that the experience was more akin to visiting a cemetery than a museum, it was truly a living memorial.

In the first place, Shelly and I were in the vast minority as patrons of the Memorial went. Most visitors to the museum were Rwandan citizens who are coming to honor the dead and who brought flowers to lay on the mass graves peppered throughout the grounds. The atmosphere was very solemn and even taking pictures felt like an intrusion on the somberness and sanctity of the experience.

For me, the rawness of the genocide was most prevalent in the room filled, floor to ceiling, with pictures of those killed in the genocide and in the room dedicated to children that were killed which included pictures of the children as well as a bio about their personality, likes and dislikes and how they died. Children of the GenocideIt was at this point that I fully realized the extent of the devastation the genocide caused and was still causing in the lives of the people of Rwanda. The city of Kigali hides its scars well and if I hadn't known about the genocide, I would never have guessed that such a thriving and bustling city could have such a dark past. I am amazed that the country has mended so much in such a small amount of time and awed by the citizens of Rwanda for choosing to work together to heal their country.