I am not going to go over what Chris has already said, but needless to say the tension ratcheted up about 12 notches in a very short space of time yesterday. We are lucky to be here with each other. Learning of the grenade attack was scary and we were nervous, particularly as we were sitting in a café at the time. I have never had a day like it.
Our emotions were obviously heightened, and the whole cocktail of confusion swimming round my head must have something to do with the impact that the Genocide Memorial centre had on me. I won’t bother taking you through every step. Rather, I have been keeping a journal of the trip and will share a couple of extracts with you.
“the last section will stay with me forever. It is filled with the faces of children, wide and smiling, with a card underneath. Each card bears the name of the child in the lifesize picture, his/her favourite sport and food. Their best friend, so often their brother, sister or mother. You build a picture of this child in your mind. Playing, laughing, singing. First words, or steps, or day at school. Just like us. Underneath are their final words, followed by the manner of their death. ‘Mummy, mummy, where do I run to?’ he was four, and shot in the head. ‘The UN will save us’. He was 2, and hacked to death with a machete in his mother’s arms. ‘Pray’. She was 18 months and it was one of the only words she knew. She was smashed against a wall until she was dead. 18 months old.
300,000 victims are buried there – given at least some level of dignity. As I sat by the biggest of the mass graves, on the floor with my back against a cold stone wall, I was totally alone and full of anger and despair. The innocence. The waste. The violence and needless slaughter. The fact that the whole world stood by and watched while a million people were massacred in a matter of weeks, and did nothing. Nothing. The genocide could have been prevented by as many troops as it took to evacuate the Westerners. Yet there was no mandate. We did nothing to stop this. We had the power to, but we didn’t.
As I sat there, I knew my emotions were in turmoil but I realised for the first time that tears were streaming down my face.”
Yesterday brought home how real this situation is, and we will have to tread carefully now. But this is the most important thing I have ever done, and I will not back down now.