16 years ago, the smallest country of the Great-Lakes region was hit by a genocide. 4 friends interested in African politics have decided to take a closer look at the Renaissance of the Rwandan society.

Il y a 16 ans, le plus petit pays de la région des Grands-Lacs était touché par un génocide dévastateur. 4 amis passionnés de politique africaine ont décidé de s'intéresser de près à la Renaissance de la société Rwandaise.

mercredi 18 août 2010

Grenade attacks in Kigali

Wednesday 11th of August 2010. 18:45. It’s hot and the capital is already plunged into the ritual darkness of an almost normal day. It’s while we were climbing up the main street of Kigali that one of us heard something similar to the sound of a heavy log crashing with huge momentum onto the solid ground. Thinking that everyone had heard it, no signal has been given. It’s only several minutes later, weakened by the long day we had spent carrying cameras - a way too heavy tripod and many accessories - that we realized while arriving at a junction that the traffic had been blocked. Four armed militaries equipped with modern radio means of communication – part of the usual scenery of Kigali – were busy radio transmitting what seemed to be precious information about the ongoing of the situation and keeping cars and buses stationary. Intrigued by the unusual event, we stopped to watch. As did tens of people, rapidly forming a crowd on the two sideways of the road. A few minutes pass and the irresistible envy of approaching a military to ask for more information takes over the weird, scary and anxious feeling of the unknown.

The first attempt is a failure as the camouflage-dressed man retorts “I don’t know” in a way we could easily understand he was trying to keep us from knowing something. On the second attempt, after a few minutes spent trying to make ourselves understandable, a policeman answers there has been some unclear severe events killing another policeman, a few hundred meters away. Surprised by the declarations, our first reflex is to question the statement which seemed surreal to us. Could what we had less hoped about happen? In the meanwhile, two or three convoys of pickups and ambulances had made their way on the avenue, passing right in front of us at highway speeds. Direction? KFH, the King Faisal Hospital of Kigali. The air was filled with deafening siren noises. Turning our heads as the cars went by just as fighter planes lock their targets to avoid missing any ounce of them; we discover stacks of people at the back of pickups of which the feet of lying bodies were standing out. That’s when the famous “see to believe” saying had better than ever found its sense. That’s when we all looked at each other not believing what we were seeing. As we spoke loudly, under the tragic excitement of panic, obvious questions surfaced about the health status of these people, at least heavily injured. A couple minutes later, gained by a feeling no word can possibly describe, we unquestionably decide to abandon the idea of diner to head to the area where the attacks took place. Cautious and still carrying our heavy equipment, we involve ourselves discretely into adjoining streets, avoiding militaries and policemen. As we approach the premises, fear inevitably invades our souls, themselves pushed by an indescribable impulse. These minutes – that always seem to last long – are the moment where sight is felt crucial. Everything, anything around us is perceived like a threat and eyes wide open, our pupils scrutinize the environment approving the maximum of its events. A few minutes later, we were arriving. A huge crowd of people and militaries were surrounding the now empty, demarked scene.

The severely injured and psychologically affected people had already been carried away and nothing remained but abandoned vehicles, knocked over chairs and tables and several blood trails. Not to say many. Rapidly, journalists accompanied with cameramen and assistants were coming out of nowhere, queuing up behind us and trying – just like us - to hear the testimony of an English speaking witness. By the time, we had gotten our cameras and microphones out of our bags and were trying, as well as bad, to cover the event.

The tall, plump American man was having a hair cut opposite the street when he heard the explosion. He testified that not even a second had been sufficient to stop the activities of life in the quarter. He continued delivering the scoop by telling that everyone started running towards the crime scene, trying to see and understand what had happened, helping the first survivors. Most of the touched people were in a state of shock and his estimation of twenty severely and lightly injured people added to the tragic situation. Later on, we received confirmation of the worst that could have happened. We stayed until late. Pretty late. Then decided to leave to get some rest. The following morning, we realized the chance we had had when we remembered we had almost decided to dine in the snack just above where the grenade had been thrown. The problems of life had vanished and its importance seriously been reviewed.

Arthur Draber

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