10 years after

Today is the day that 10 years ago the genocide in Rwanda started. After a plane crash that kills the president, Hutu men start to extinct the Tutsi people, killing 900.000 of them. Yes, nine-hundred-thousand! Yesterday I heard a documentary on the radio that was based on the book “Season of the Machetes” by French reporter Jean Hatzfeld. It is a horror story, in which a group of friends looks back on what happened. The monstrosities are so great it’s hard to believe that they’re true. What struck me the most are two things: the fact that the genocide was precisely planned and organised, and the way the guys saw their own role in it. They were invited to come to the local football stadium bringing knifes and other sharp material; if they didn’t bring those, they would sure be killed themselves. Most of the guys found themselved doing things they had never imagined, or even thought of; some of them said it was ‘another them’ that did it – they detached their identity from their role in the genocide. I guess that is the only way to live with, but at the same time I felt that they were talking about a demonic power that drove them (although they didn’t put it like that). It is frightening to hear that people can go mad on such a large scale, that common sense and civilisation, human rights, values and morals can be put aside… And even now, many experts say that all the ingredients are there for another genocide – not only in Rwanda, but in other places in the world too.

Anyone who still believes in the original goodness of mankind should listen to the documentary or read this book, I suppose…

The VPRO Radio 1 documentary (in Dutch)

University of Pennsylvania page on Rwanda

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