Kigali Genocide Memorial in Rwanda

Remembrance wall at Kigali Genocide Memorial - photo by Rob McFarland

Remembrance wall at Kigali Genocide Memorial – photo by Rob McFarland

Traveller, Sydney Morning Herald, Australia – Aug 18, 2018

Visiting a memorial that chillingly describes how a million people were murdered in a 100-day killing spree is probably the last thing you’ll want to do when you arrive in Rwanda. But you should. Firstly, to pay your respects, but also because it might be the only reminder you’ll get. So miraculous has been Rwanda’s recovery since the horrific genocide in 1994, it’s hard to believe the atrocities happened in the same place.

Located in Kigali’s Gisozi district, a 10-minute drive from the centre of the capital, the Kigali Genocide Memorial opened in April 2004 on the 10th anniversary of the genocide. The first section describes the complex series of events that led to the civil war between Rwanda’s two main ethnic groups, the Hutus and Tutsis. Interestingly, the initial distinction between them wasn’t based on ethnicity at all – it was socio-economic.

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Mountain gorilla trek in Rwanda

Gorillas in Virunga Massif in Rwanda - photo by Rob McFarland

Gorillas in Virunga Massif in Rwanda – photo by Rob McFarland

Traveller, Sydney Morning Herald, Australia – Apr 14, 2018

Mr D holds up his hand and we all shuffle to a stop. “They’re in the next clearing,” he whispers. “Take off your rucksacks. Only cameras and phones from now on.”

A crackle of anticipation passes through the group. Heartbeats quicken; mouths go dry. “Everyone ready? Remember, if you are gentle, they will be gentle. OK, follow me.”

Two trackers with machine guns step aside and we creep in single file through the dense undergrowth. Mr D announces our impending arrival with a series of shrieks and low-pitched grunts. We enter a small clearing and there, less than four metres away, is a 150-kilogram silverback mountain gorilla.

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Tour of Nyamirambo in Kigali, Rwanda

Walking tour of Nyamirambo in Kigali - photo by Rob McFarland

Walking tour of Nyamirambo in Kigali – photo by Rob McFarland

Traveller, Sun-Herald, Australia – Feb 18, 2018

In a bare concrete hall, women rummage through second-hand clothing on makeshift wooden tables. “We call it caguwa wishyure, which means pick and pay,” says our guide Shema. “You can also say caguwa to a loved one. To show her she’s unique and there’s nothing else like her.”

I try to imagine how my girlfriend would react if I compared her to a piece of second-hand clothing. I suspect it would not end well.

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