Drive-by Shooting in Rwanda
11-19 March 2012
Ideally: I like to set up my camera
and tripod and carefully compose a picture, waiting for just the right moment
to click the shutter.
Practically: I was one of eight
Americans in Rwanda whose main purpose was to interview and select twenty-three
of Rwanda's most promising
high school students for scholarships to American universities to earn bachelor's
degrees in science and mathematics. While being transported between
our hotel and the interview location at the Rwanda Education Board office
in the capital city Kigali, it wasn't possible to carefully compose photographs.
Even after the interviews and selections had been made and some of the group
embarked on a cross-country trip to track
chimpanzees in the rainforst, it wasn't practical to ask Paul Emmanuel Runganintwari
(our driver/guide) to pull the Toyota Landcruiser
over every time I saw a photogenic scene. Therefore, the pictures that follow
were shot through the Landcruiser window as
we zipped along at 60 kilometers per hour. They're not great, but they are
better than nothing, and maybe you'll have a sense
of Rwanda. Its the best I could do under the circumstances.
A fountain in a roundabout in
Kigali the capital of Rwanda is home to 1.2 million of Rwanda's 11 million
Construction is booming along
the hilltops of Kigali
Hotels, office buildings, and
restaurants abound on the ridges of Kigali
A residential area in Kigali
Thousands of motorcycle taxis
provide quick inexpensive transportation for city dwellers.
People are friendly. Intersections
have stoplights. Streets and sidewalks are neat and clean and stores are well
Motorcycle taxis at the ready.
For about US $2000 a man can buy a Chinese motorbike and start a taxi business.
This one has a sunshade!
The adjacent church and mosque
may provide spiritual support.
Color Your World # 1
In 1994, about 1000 Tutsis sought
refuge in the Catholic Church at Nyamata. A mob of Hutus and government soldiers
tossed grenades inside and then broke through the doors and slaughtered everyone
inside with machetes.
The Church has been set aside as a Genocide Memorial and a mass grave has
thousands of bones and hundreds of skulls on display.
Photographs were not allowed nor could they adequately convey the sense of
horror and sadness of this place.
Primus Beer sponsors a competition
to select Rwanda's most popular musician.
Education is a top priority. Public
and religiously-affiliated private schools abound.
Work to do
The Akagere River meanders through
Rwanda providing habitat for crocodiles and hippopotamuses.
Main street in a typical town
south of Kigali
Main street in Butare which no
Explanation: About 800,000 people
died in the 1994 genocide.
Suppose your father and mother, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles and
cousins were murdered in Butare.
For as long as you live, at every mention of Buture, those wounds are reopened
and your heart aches.
The government has decided to rename many of the towns and cities.
Butare has been renamed Huye. You won't find Butare on new maps.
Color Your World # 2
Prisoners are easily recognized
by their orange or pink uniforms.
After the 1994 genocide, about 400,000 Rwandans were in prison.
Those who named their victims, described how they were killed and where the
bodies were left, and
provided information about the activities of their comrades were given shortened
sentences by civilian courts
comprised of village elders (men over 50 years old.)
Those who refused to confess completely or provide all the information requested
do not recieved shortened terms.
Prisoners tend a rice patty
Rabbits are housed in hutches
above talapia ponds.
Rabbit poop drops into the water. The fish grow quickly.
If your fish tastes like sh__, you know why!
Most farm work is done by women.
Ditches form the boundaries of each family's plot.
Hills and mountains once covered
by rainforest are now terraced farmlands.
Except for the national parks, virtually every square meter of land in Rwanda
is under cultivation.
This hill has fields of tea bushes.
Garden plots are interspersed
with eucalyptus trees (imported from Australia) which
provide timber for construction and firewood for cooking.
Occupied # 2
Fields of tea amid the forest
Bicycles are plentiful throughout
Rwanda but very few people actually ride bikes.
Most are used as two-wheeled trucks for hauling wood, produce, water, and
any other items that need to be moved from one place to another.
Silage for cows and goats
Milk jugs and water bottles
Soft drinks the hard way
Using your head if you don't have
Color Your World # 3