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A most over-glorious view of Kigali

 

Take a bit to read this article. It’s written by Josh Ruxin, a man who gave a really engaging, frank lecture to the SIT students in Rwanda last spring on how Rwanda is developing and emerging out of its violence-stricken recent personal history. Reading his piece took me back exactly a year, when I wrote a blog (actually probably only a couple of entries down…) about Rwanda’s annual genocide remembrance beginning on April 6th.  The city of Kigali was dead quiet except for some motos who were charging through the roof, and I went for a walk in the morning. This year the 6th happens to fall right around Easter, a day to celebrate rebirth and hope – things that are celebrate-able, regardless of religion. Seeing as how Rwandans were the most enthusiastic people in church that I had ever seen, I hope the sentiment behind Easter is used to inject a feeling of literal reincarnation into a very somber three months of remembrance for that country.

Toward the end of his piece, Ruxin riffs off a quote from a young Rwandan saying that the main feeling of being poor is the lack of freedom. This is something I feel that the United States could take a hint from – there’s a general animosity toward the poor; they live off the state and are content with that. But anyone who is held hostage at the mercy of bureaucracy, whether it’s in Rwanda or the United States, is feeling that same inability to take ownership over their own lives. This is also echoed in a book I’m reading again (also last reading it in Rwanda, go figure), The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down. The Hmong mother in the book acknowledges the ease of American life over the difficulties of life in a Thai refugee camp, but admits her frustration over cultural ineptitude and the feeling of not being charge of her own life when government stipends are handed to her. It may sound like “oh poor woman, what a problem to have,” but when your agency is taken away and you are at the whim and decision-making of someone else, your feeling of an independent human being ebbs away and making things happen of your own accord begins to seem impossible.

Modern day slavery is alive and well; to poverty, to mental anguish. Abolitionists don’t have to be from your American Civil War history book either – right now there’s a need for everyone to be one.

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