The next journey begins Poland and Rwanda 2019

The next journey begins  Poland and Rwanda 2019
2019 adventures

Thursday, August 8, 2019


 I Apologize For all the typos and grammatical errors.

Thank you to those who have followed me and read this blog.

My new friends along with some old friends- Life is good

Some photos from airport, and Doha. Also the ones who kayaked with a lovely beach feast made by Carl's friends.


worth the calories!

Home again

So its been a day or is it 2 that I am  home. Hard to digest everything and I must give myself a few days.  When I left it was after a torrential storm and I had to bale water- well it happened again yesterday!  Rochelle picked me up at airport and we had a nice evening as she listened attentively to all my stories.  It was good not coming home alone. But the rain was tough and dealing with it - although I tried to "find the good" vis a vie Carl. The good was no water in kitchen this time.

Going backwards- the 19 hr flight and 8 hr layover was a test in endurance. Qatar airport is big, opulent and EXPENSIVE. That cake and coffee cost me USA $18!!  Some people opted to leave airport and go on kayaking. I did not want to press my luck. 
We went through 7 layers of security starting in Kigali  with dogs sniffing luggage before entering airport. In Qatar it was intense. I mentioned they took my coffee and my small bottle of wine ( which was in duty free bag).

The last day- actually day we left we met with The Minister of Justice. He would be like the Federal Attorney General in USA. A very handsome, tall man , whose English was perfect. His name is Johnston Busingye and has been in this office since 2013. He spoke with us for longer than we had expected but we could have listened for hours. I have some quotes that resonated with me.

He said  referring to Rwanda" The country  is a reconciliation village" and that "Being a good guest makes for a better host."

He had recently read Carl's book ( Im not Leaving) saying he was excited to meet the man behind the book. They met for the first time just weeks ago.  He has been in Rwanda since 1989 and trying to figure out how the best way to govern would be. He said in 1994 "Rwanda disappeared It lost Justice, education, agriculture, infrastructure and one million people." Recovery, he said ,

They may have used many "unconventional" and unorthodox  methods because the old ways would not have worked. New paths had to be made . Any how to books about this situation had not been written yet. "After the genocide many thousands were arrested for genocidal crimes with no system in place to deal with it. There were no judges, lawyers, prosecutors: nothing. Some said to just line them all up and kill them. So one million were murdered illegally, do you want to kill another million legally? That is just stupid." In 2007 Rwanda abolished the death penalty with over 7000 waiting on death row.  Since 2005 only one person was executed.  he said that abolishing the death penalty was "turning the page. Killing is not acceptable." Abolishing the death penalty sent a message to the world and the people of Rwanda to stop the killing.President Paul Kagame told the people that they will prevail as a country is they ended the death penalty. 
So how to deal with criminals without prosecutors and lawyers and judges? Should they reach out to USA? Spain? China?  He decided to find those responsible for the genocide planning both financially and logistically as well as those who carried out the killing. They would bring back an old custom of justice called "Gacaca" which literary means "sitting in the grass." This was abolished with colonialism because the colonialists looked at the Rwandans as people with no brains, and could not solve their own problems- usual for colonialists. But President Kagame so the benefits in bringing his back.    Gacaca addresses truth. If you kill everyone and no one is left then Truth becomes a victim.  In regular courts Wives can not testify against a husband but in Gacaca they can especially in this situation when Hutu spouses killed their Tutsi partners. Gacaca addressed participation. Face to face. Victims, perpetrators, families all participate, Outsiders would be on lookers.
1994 did not 'fall out of the sky' It went back to Belgium colonialism causing the division. Once you dehumanize with calling "others" cockroaches ( or rats and vermin as the Nazis did) it all contributes to the genocide. Killing is ok because it is a moral duty if one is killing something not human.
Gacaca occurs in the village where the victim and perpetrators both are. Judges are local and are chosen by the community. There are no lawyers or prosecutors. Justice is  quick. With so many people in prison for genocide the system could not be sustained, Victims needed to see justice in their lifetime.  In the end Rwandans could tell the world they could and were able to resolve their own problems. They felt that outside countries that gave aid should not feel they can tell the Rwandans what to do.
Gacaca was in effect for 10 years and tried over 2 million cases(not all are murder, some were collaboration, rape, stealing etc all related to genocide). They set free thousands whose sentences became community service. After 10 years Parliament declared  justice question was resolved, People began going to regular court,
In Gacaca the accused must tell the truth and ask for forgiveness. If accepted the sentence may have been reduced. All did serve a sentence. There are some still in prison that did not admit their crimes. But most did go to Gacaca. This is restorative justice and the world needs to see this as a functioning system. The minister of Justice said " The world is becoming one village and punishment leaves out important pieces." Gacaca's biggest thing was when someone stood up and said "This is why I did this and I do deserve the punishment.   Telling the truth I'm fully aware of the consequences. I need to rid myself of the guilt. The lie does not pay off from 1994 and confession in 2019 is needed."
The minister spoke highly of the President Kagame saying he is humble and wants to be "one of us."
He invests his brain, body and soul from Day one." " We can only win by uniting people." The Minister went on to describe a good leader saying the person must "Have an obligation to be humble. Something inside you that you check yourself for humility. If not you carry yourself which becomes a burden to others, Being humble is a duty. Leaders who say what they do not mean feel entitled and are arrogant which leads to corruption. They lose the mission and vision they started with. Here in Rwanda people are following the same man from 1990 and people continue to trust him."
"If you build unity then the platform of division is gone."
Gacaca is no longer used. The post genocide challenge could not be sustained today, They are not in that situation any more. Civil cases today use a copy of the Gacaca system for civil disputes. There is a committee called "Abanz" which means those who mend. It is like mediation.

I know this is a long blog but this man explained so much and what he said made so much sense. especially about division, unity and the merits of a good leader.

This summer was remarkable- I know its not over as Jakub will be visiting me next week!!!
Johnson has kept his word and has begun to text me daily so we can stay connected.
My friends from Poland have also kept in touch. So They have all been "Abanz" for me- helping me try to be a better person, who is grateful for what I have and hope to continue this journey

that has been so fulfilling. I will try to "find the good" when I can. I am  not perfect so dealing with floods, a broken toe, and lack of sleep may impair my ability to always find the good but I can try,