A Visit to the Kigali Memorial Centre
By Dowoti Desir
In Rwanda, genocideÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s unshakable presence, is spied in the shadows of deep physical scars of the flesh, the occasional gulped silence in a companionÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s voice, or the secret, sheltered wounds laboring away in the thoughtful cinnamon-tinted eyes of strangers that chisel mighty chunks from the heart.
The storm of tears escape no one when visiting sites like the Kigali Memorial Centre where some 20,000 bodies are interred and we see the remains of dozens of skulls and bones beneath hermetically sealed glass cases that shatter our suppressed emotional distance. Another room houses the tattered clothing of the dead. (place photo here)
The genocide center at Gikongoro, a former French military base some three hours away where we can actually touch the exposed, chalkened remains if we dare. A dozen years ago 50,000 men, women and especially children were burned alive in showers, impaled, and hacked by machetes, skulls crashed by all manner of blunt instruments. And twelve years later, the smell of blood hangs thick in the air, clinging fiercely to your senses, your clothingÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ your being. With each open barrack door, white heartache, fear, disbelief, awe greets you with stunning, Spartan austerity. These artifacts of inhumanity ensure your own transformation, imprinting the desire to facilitate social change and prevent the spread of hate.