Gregoige Kayibanda airport was my introduction to Rwanda. I remember landing and thinking about the President attempting this same landing when his jet was shot down. It was pocked with bulletholes in the walls and windows, and there was a large crater in the floor of arrivals. A taxidermied Mountain Gorilla looked particularly beleaguered in a thick and dirty glass case in the lobby.
The international aid effort post-genocide was larger than any international effort to end the genocide. Development money came in, and warehouses were built.
Rosamund Carr, who hosted Dian Fossey during her time in Rwanda studying mountain gorillas, opened her property as an orphanage after the genocide, finding children who were wandering the hills or groups who had marched back to Rwanda from the refugee camps in Zaire.
The media played the decisive role in instituting and perpetuating the genocide. It undermined morals and dehumanised Tutsis. It broadcast lists of who to kill and where they are. In the year after, new media was charged with rebuilding trust and stabilizing very volatile social politics. I studied that media and met with publishers and the government communications department. This is one of the independent publishers I met - starting a daily newspaper in Kigali in Kinyarwanda. He was born a refugee in Uganda, and had never lived in Kigali before.
The first President
President Pasteur Bizimungu. Bizimungu was the first president of post-genocide Rwanda, and was dealt an impossible hand, while killing continues and militias amassed on the Zaire border. He held the position for a short number of years before resigning after open conflict with his Vice President, Paul Kagame. Kagame has remained in power since that point, controversially changing the constitution to allow him to continue to run beyond his term limits.
Downtown Kigali. Practically deserted of shops and trade, people of the Rwandan diaspora rebuilt the city, many had never lived in Rwanda previously.
5000 people seeking sanctuary in this small church were killed. The walls were blown in from the outside so genocidaire could enter the building. The scene was left mostly untouched. I will never forget the smell.
The road to the west.
The same slogan was applied by foreign agencies evacuating staff during the run up to the masacres.
The retreating genocidaire forces laid landmines across the western part of Rwanda, and in the hills around Kigali. Demining teams worked constantly, and at 5pm everyday they triggered all the located mines, sending the booming sound of explosions through the hills every night.
Machetes, clubs, and grenades were weapons of choice.
Just outside Kigali, Giti boasted that no genocide had been committed there.