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Stories from Rwanda - Sneak Peek!

posted 24 Oct 2012, 16:38 by Chris Morris

As you should all know by now, I have returned from what was for me, a life-changing trip to Rwanda to deliver some music lessons to children in Espoir Primary School, Rwamagana. I had planned to write a blog here on Dundee Drum Academy's website but I have also been asked by Dramatic Need (The charity I volunteered with) to write one for their site. I have been working hard - a little too hard - for the past few days and have ended up writing thousands of words about my experience... And I'm not even finished yet!

So, my blog will be split up into three or maybe even four parts. In the meantime, I thought I'd give you a little snippet of something I have already written to give you a taste for what the blog will be like. This is from what I currently envision to be the third part of the blog, which will focus on some heavy(ish) subjects including the Rwandan Genocide of 1994, my visit to the memorial sites both in Rwamagana and Kigali, and a very important lesson I learned about forgiveness. I hope you enjoy this short excerpt and I will work to get the full blog finished as soon as possible!

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Earlier this year, I drove through Dunblane for the first time. I had never set foot in the town before but I have always known a lot about the horrible massacre that occurred in the primary school, and the story has brought tears to my eyes on more than one occasion. As I drove through I couldn’t help but have this terrible feeling in my stomach, like the memories of what happened in 1996 still haunt the little town and the poor people who must want nothing more than to move on with their lives, and somehow forget what happened at the school.

This feeling – I thought at the time – would be just a taste of what being in Rwanda would feel like.

I was always a little nervous about coming to Rwanda as a westerner. I think if I were Rwandan, I’d be pretty sick of white people by now; we colonised Rwanda, divided the people into two racial groups, favoured one over the other to the extremes of allowing one group vastly better education and health causing deep resentment from the other group, and when we finally granted them independence we turned the tables and put the other group in charge, causing several violent massacres and a four year long civil war. And then there’s the genocide itself – a by-product of western colonisation where nearly one million Rwandans were horrifically slaughtered while the United Nations first idly stood by, and then fled the country (Not before rescuing only the white people of course) leaving the extremists to what they liked to call their “work”.

Flash-forward eighteen years and here’s this white British guy walking the streets of Rwanda safe and sound, long after the dust has settled. Not only are the Rwandan people not insulted by this, but I don’t think I've ever felt as welcome even in my own country. Everyone I would pass on the street would say hello, would smile, and would shake my hand. Street kids, instead of begging me for money would simply run up and hug me. Dunblane? This place felt nothing like Dunblane. I'm not sure people back home would be so forgiving – I know I certainly still cheer for whatever football team is playing against England in the world cup! Okay, that’s a bit of fun and games, but Rwandan people may actually be the most forgiving people in the world, and I’ll tell you why...

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