Monday, April 06, 2015

Bisesero, April 7th. 21st. Commemoration, Rwanda Genocide.

Today, last year, I was in Bisesero in order to spend the 20th Commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. Bisesero is a small village up in the mountains, overlooking Lake Kivu and Congo (DRC). From Kibuye, you need a very good 4x4 car or a motorbike and you will reach the village and the memorial in 3- 4 hours. The people are known to be strong. The history dating back to the events of the summer of 1994 is just awful. In addition to the Hutu militia, there are eye witness accounts suggesting "White Soldiers" were active participants in the killings. And, there were many killings- around 50000 people were massacred during the genocide in this small region. Regardless of who did what in Bisesero, and the rest of Rwanda, the consequences are terrible. Arriving in Bisesero last year, I was met with smiles and laughter by the kids. Hopefully these kids will not have the heavy burden of the recent past obstructing their future. 
The engine in our bus between Kigali and Kibuye needed to cool down. Local sales people dropped by with refreshments. 
It takes about 4 hours with the bus from Kigali to reach Kibuye. People of Rwanda are pretty much as connected with their mobile phones as the people anywhere in Europe. 
Upon arrival in Kibuye, we were met with the taxi drivers.
France controversially refused to officially be represented for the 20th commemoration in Rwanda, after President Paul Kagame made allegations about France's involvement in the Genocide. Bisesero is the heart of the problems between the two countries. 
You pass by plenty little villages along the road to Bisesero. It is a very hilly area with plenty of tea plantations. Lake Kivu curves around the hills and can be seen from the road. The kids were typically curios about who were in the car. 
The kids of Bisesero, greeting us upon arrival.
The kids of Bisesero greeting us upon arrival.
Local people gathering for the commemoration outside the memorial listening to the radio on what takes place in kigali.
The commemoration in Bisesero takes place by the memorial, April 7th, 2014.
A woman and her child is seen leaving the commemoration on July 7th 2014.  
Aaron Mukomeza (left in the photo, the son of Aminadabu Birara, the chief of the civilian resistance against the genocide) walking home from the after the commemoration in Bisesero on April 7th 2014. 
A young shepherd bringing the his animals home, passing Bisesero. 
April is the rain season in Rwanda. 
A photograph showing French UN soldiers in Bisesero in 1994
Bellow the Memorial in Bisesero can you seethe remains of over 1500 dead people on display. 
Inside the memorial in Bisesero, remains from more then 1500 bodies can be seen. 
A further 50000 bodies have been prepared and and will be re-buried in the official 
mass grave in June.
Mucyo, a survivor of the genocide, lost a leg during the war. Here, he takes time to show us how the memorial in Bisesero is designed to be functional as well as a place to use by the survivors in this small community. April 7th, 2014.
The commemoration continues into the early hours. 
Remains from the 50000 people who were killed during the genocide in 1994. All bodies have during 2014 been reburied into the official mass graves. 
The view from the Bisesero Memorial. A region so beautiful. Such a stark contrast to what happened here, only 20 years ago. 
Leaving Bisesero really gave you the impression of being isolated. It was dark. No electricity. No water. No nothing in fact. 30 minutes after leaving, the car broke down. We knew there were another 2h 30 min, minimum, to drive. The car broke down again. And again. Eventually, we made it back to Kibuye. It was a great experience to commemorate the 20th Commemoration of the Rwandan Genocide with the people of Bisesero. 
Kigali. The city seems another world from the remote parts of Rwanda. 
#genocide #storytelling #humanrights #photojournalism #documentary #nikon #reportage #lifeaftergenocide #humanrights #postwar #rwanda #neveragain #africa #photography #kigali #webster #nikonpro #bisesero #rwandagenocide #april7 

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