Africa/Europe: Ambassadors for Peace
25 Years sometimes isn’t a long Time
The Memorial in Nyamata, Rwanda
Nyamata is a city with 35000 inhabitants in the south of Rwanda. The City of Milk is not only home to FC Bugesera. The club plays in the land of a thousand hills in the first league. The Nyamata Genocide Memorial is not far from the newly built stadium.
When the killing began in April 1994, many people gathered in churches. They thought it was safe. About 10000 people barricaded themselves in the Catholic church of the small town. It is unimaginable that such a large number of people should have fitted in here. The attackers made holes in the walls. When they were big enough, they threw hand grenades into them. And they shot into it. Then machetes were used.
All the people who had fled into it were killed. “Sebastiano Ciprianai asks himself, “Churches are holy places. The Italian journalist visited the memorial when he reported on the Tour du Rwanda. Like many other colleagues, he wanted to go there despite a hard day’s work. He wanted to sympathize a little. When he imagines how long the slaughter must have lasted, he begins to tremble and can no longer talk.
His eyes wander over knitted baby clothes, rosaries and holes of shell splinters in walls and metal sheets. “The dark spots,” one of the memorial memorial’s employees later explains soundlessly, “are blood splashes.” She has been guiding people through the memorial for four years now.
She thinks it was more violent for her in the beginning than it is now. But the leadership could hardly have been more emotionless. At that time she was still a child. She experienced things that no one likes to talk about or even chat about. And then 25 years are not a long time.
This text was written by Ambassador Tom Laengner; the photos were taken by Nils Laengner.