‘We are 1 country, united’
Today met a man whose name I cannot spell nor pronounce.
I asked him what his name meant and he told me that it meant ‘pride.’
That same man is the first person I have directly spoken to who was directly impacted by the 1994 genocide, as his father and older brother were murdered.
We met at 5am, before the bold Central Africa sun woke up and we drove for 3 hours to the border of Tanzania.
Our goal: to see the national park.
Our reality: to learn about each other.
My challenge: understand how this man, whose name means Pride, truly competed for life.
As we drove through the countryside, children came out in droves to simply wave.
We would yell hello, throw out a peace sign and continue to cruise, deep into the heart of this fascinating land.
I couldn’t help but think of Mr. Pride everytime we saw a child. I imagined him, a teenager in 1994, hiding from his neighbors, seeking out his father, competing for another sunrise.
When we entered the park the animals were sheer beauty, as they were flanked by green pastures that would ignite your senses like no recent color.
Giraffe’s, elephants, hippos, zebras, chimpanzees, monkey’s, crocodiles, various birds and more roamed this land in an orchestrated pageantry.
And as I snapped instagrams, shot video and zoomed in for close ups, my childlike curiosity began to grow.
And as I became more excited I would look to Mr.Pride and wonder about his childlike curiosity.
Does he still have it? When he watches his one year old son play does he recall hiding in home after home, seeking survival in 1994? What is it like living through a time when over 800,000 were murdered in 100 days and two of those lives lost were the two men you looked up to?
So I asked him.
On our 3 hour drive back to Kigali it took him 30 seconds to respond.
“What was that time like for you?”
Looking straight ahead he gave a wry smile which made me almost wish I hadn’t asked.
“I hid out, moving each day seeking safety…”
And as though he was imagining his father and older brother he continued, “and now Rwanda is no longer two or three groups of society..we are one country, united.”
And for another hour Mr. Pride and I drove in silence as the bright orange sun set over a united nation in central Africa, where it’s people define competing for life.