From LOSS to PAIN & HOPE – Lessons from the Kigali Genocide Memorial

Yesterday the 14th of December, I visited the Genocide Memorial Center in Kigali with two of our associate coaches from the Olusola Lanre Coaching Academy (OLCA), Kolade and Emeka. 

In preparing my mind for the visit (NOTHING in this world prepared me for what I was about to see and hear), I started by asking: How and why do terribly evil things like genocides, civil wars or holocausts happen? Can anyone give a logical answer that is acceptable? When you ask the perpetrators why they did what they did, they can’t give you a reasonably logical answer 

From my Neuroscience background I can only explain it as thus: Psychological and Emotional Anchors and Triggers are set using key hypnotic words, phrases and/or sounds. When the time is right,  the triggers are fired by the hypnotists by releasing the hypnotic sound and the perpetrators are activated and they start acting like zombies until their acts of evil are done.

Why will one human being do this to another? One reason I have found, looking back into history is the tussle for power and dominance by some men over other men. This construct in itself  is an anomaly and can cause man to abuse another even to the point of dehumanizing him. Another reason is hate, which is a very strong emotion that can propel a person to do anything 

BEaWARE: We humans are a very unique species. We are capable of doing anything WHEN we find the “JUSTIFICATION” to do it.

L-R: With Kolade Stephen and Ezeogu Emeka at the Kigali Genocide Memorial

As I walked round the memorial I continued to ask: 

Why will a man brutally torture, rape, humiliate and then take the life of a young girl (The daughter of another man) in front of her father? 

Why will a man brutally torture, rape, humiliate and then take the life of a woman (the wife of another man) in front of her husband? 

Why will a man take the life of another in gruesome ways such as: cutting their tendons when they tried to run away; maiming and killing with machettes; throwing people into pit latrines alive and stoning others to death? 

It just sounds to me like a man stepping on a cockroach to crush it because he sees the cockroach as a pest.

Does he do all these: 

Because he can?

Because he hates him?

Because he has the power to do it?

Because he sees himself as superior?

Because he sees the other as Inferior?

Because he finds pleasure in such acts?

Wall of victims’ names

I saw cynicism, loss, hopelessness, anger, fear, trauma, depression, despondency even hope in the eyes and written all over the faces of the genocide  survivors.

At some point, the streets were filled with corpses and dogs were eating the rotten flesh of their owners. The stench of death was everywhere, Rwanda seemed dead then BUT ONLY for a time and season.

What did the victims actually do to deserve such acts of evil perpetrated against them? How can a people and an entire nation bounce back from such an experience?

How does one get a sense of justice and peace from such injustice one man to another, friend to friend, neighbour to neighbour? How can these people trust in humanity again?

How do these people come back from such an experience? How do they wipe away the gory memories of genocide that they personally experienced first hand, dust their lives and pick it up again? Where do they start from? If you were in their shoes how would you feel and what will you do about it?

Evil can ONLY thrive for a season (After it has achieved its purpose and leaves fear/trauma in its wake) but ULTIMATELY, GOOD PREVAILS

IS THERE A DEEPER MEANING ABOUT MASS DEATH?

Through pictures, as I looked into the eyes and saw the smiling faces of these children who represented other children that were killed (David MUGIRANNEZA 10; Patrick GASHIGI SHIMIRAWA 5; Yvonne UWERA 5 and Yves UGUSHA 3) I connected with them at a deep level, I immediately realized that Life and Death are not exclusive of one another

The Mass Graves – over 250,000 victims of the genocide

Also in the purple room as I saw the pictures of mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers etc, looking into their eyes i resolved to treat ALL humans as equals, to LOVE and EMPATHIZE with ALL men and also give HOPE and Live to LOVE. 

I said to myself: 

Now that you have the GIFT of Life, you must live your best life NOW; Not tomorrow

The greatest VICTORY over death is LIFE LIVED WELL

Hope, Faith and Love are truly the keys to existence  and life 

The wall of names, the skulls, bones, machetes, pictures, videos, write ups, mass graves etc all made the genocide very real to me

BUT will we ever learn from history? Who knows? 

This day was probably one of the most profound days of my life. I can see the power of the human mind for what it is: It can do anything. Also, the heart of man is desperately wicked. 

Phewwww……what a day!! Thankfully I was refreshed and reinvigorated by the Rose Garden after my burdened 2 hour walk. I STRONGLY BELIEVE that, the Sun has risen again from the East (Rwanda) and it must set in the West (Go figure) 

The Rose Garden

I’m Nigerian but yesterday when I stood on the soil in Rwanda, I declared the Rise of Africa! If I know nothing else from my memorial walk experience, I know that it’s Africa’s time.  Keeping hope alive in Africa is Key for the African Renaissance 

I have been to Rwanda severally but yesterday was my first time visiting the Kigali Genocide Memorial and I encourage everyone who can, to come to Rwanda and EXPERIENCE it. 

Shalom , 

The Catalyst

#ForAfricaByAfricans