Aug. 28th, 2005

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I've been rereading We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families, which is part of the preparatory reading I'm doing for Africa. We're travelling as far east as Lake Kivu and the Rwandan border, and I want the knowledge of what happened in those places -- before and during 1994, and since -- to be fresh in my mind.

Somehow, the last page caught me unawares, again. It is devastating. For those who haven't read the book (it is certainly difficult, and not everyone's cup of tea) I want to share that last story.

On April 30, 1997 -- almost a year ago as I write -- Rwandan television showed footage of a man who confessed to having been among a party of genocidaires who had killed seventeen schoolgirls and a sixty-two-year-old Belgian nun at a boarding school in Gisenyi two nights earlier. It was teh second such attack on a school in a month; the first time, sixteen students were killed and twenty injured in Kibuye.

The prisoner on television explained that the massacre was part of a Hutu Power "liberation" campaign. His bad of a hundred fifty militants was composed largely of ex-FAR and interahamwe. During their attack on the school in Gisenyi, as in the earlier attack on the school in Kibuye, the students, teenage girls who had been roused from their sleep, were ordered to separate themselves -- Hutus from Tutsis. But the students had refused. At both schools, the girls said they were simply Rwandans, so they were beaten and shot indiscriminately.

Rwandans have no need -- no room in their corpse-crowded imaginations -- for more martyrs. None of us does. But mightn't we all take some courage from the example of those brave Hutu girls who could have chosen to live, but chose instead to call themselves Rwandans?

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