It’s a rare occasion when the only things I can hear are the birds chirping, the soft music of our wooden wind chime, the rustling of the leaves, the distant sound of children playing, and not much else. The workers next door have stopped building for the day; no more clanging and pounding as they put the steep metal roof on the new house. The people at the studio behind our house have left their post as non-stop D.J.’s; no loud music of any and every genre being played over the speakers at all hours of the day. Even the street that the studio sits on is quiet. No more than one or two motos or trucks passing by each minute… a rare thing any time of day here in Musanze. It’s a quiet afternoon. It’s been a quiet week.
This week marks the 20-year anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide. Each afternoon, the town shuts down as locals attend required meetings in their sectors. This makes for abnormally quiet afternoons for me as I am on Spring Break this week. On Monday, I had the opportunity to participate in an all-day meeting. We started off by meeting at the district office. From there we all walked to a nearby memorial. There they said prayers, made speeches, and laid flowers in remembrance of those killed two decades ago. From there everyone walked to the stadium where the meeting continued. As much as I wished I could understand more than 5 words throughout the hours of speeches I listened to, part of me was thankful that I could not. I didn’t need to understand the language to know what was happening or to feel the sadness that rests on so many in this country.
I cannot even begin to comprehend what these people live with. They are strong people. This is a strong country. There has been a lot of reconciliation in this land. But pain this deep doesn’t just go away. Not even after 20 years.