Monday, March 06, 2006

Continued From Yesterday

It took me three to five minutes to calibrate my hearing to understand the accent of Mr. Rucesabagina's speaking. He spoke for sixty minutes without notes so his message was ingrained in him and the presentation was organized. Much of the experiences he related was what I expected of genocide, people killing people due to race or ethnicity with intent of wiping them out completely. He related the experience step by step of taking refuge in the hotel and rationing supplies and swimming pool water for drinking by 1200 people. The slaughter of 800,000 over the period of 100 days was described in detail and without a doubt Mr. Rucesabagina was a hero for the way he handled himself in the situation. Here are some key points of his talk:

He indicated the elders in their population who were role models, the wise among them, the respected, took guns, machetes, clubs, and started killing. Some parents killed their children, some children killed their parents, some church clergy killed their church members, some church members killed their clergy. "People went wild" he said. People who lost the upper hand in the slaughter would pay to be executed with a single bullet instead of hacked to death slowly with machetes. Mr. Rucesabagina's father-in-law was one who paid to be killed instantly.

Outside help in their country from the UN and perhaps other peacekeeping groups turned their backs, closed their eyes, and departed the country.

Mr. Rucesbagina spent days by telephone talking with contacts in Washington, Paris, and Brussels with pleas for help as he described to them the carnage taking place. Help never arrived.

He urged the audience to help countries like Rwanda and Darfur by talking to our leaders and I think he said something about the need of education. (maybe here, maybe there). Mr. Rucesabagina has established a foundation to accept money to offer financial help to children and women affected by the genocide in Rwanda and Sub-Saharan African nations such as Sudan.

The title of his talk was "Hotel Rwanda: A Lesson Not Yet Learned"

Tomorrow, I'll comment on my impressions and lessons I think are in this experience.

Have a good day!


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