Monthly Archives: May 2014

“Nothing happens that we did not predict”: Rwandan media is still suffering fallout of 1994 genocide – Irish Times

Tutsi refugees in Kabgayi in May 1994: RTLM radio told listeners not to take pity on women and children. Photograph: Alexander Joe/AFP/Getty Images

Tutsi refugees in Kabgayi in May 1994: RTLM radio told listeners not to take pity on women and children. Photograph: Alexander Joe/AFP/Getty Images

The media put a stop to that. One of the most notorious hate-radio stations in history, Radio Television Libres des Milles Collines (RTLM), began broadcasting on July 8th, 1993, nine months before the genocide. Its reach was almost ubiquitous. Its presenters – who included Italian-born Belgian citizen Georges Ruggiu – preached violence, told listeners to “get to work”, and reminded them not to take pity on women and children.

In a country with a high illiteracy rate, radio was hugely influential, and many accepted anything said on it as fact.

Less accessible, but still incredibly influential, was the newspaper Kangura. In early 1994 it carried the headline “Habyarimana will die in March”, over an article explaining that Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana would soon be killed. The article opened with the words: “Nothing happens that we did not predict.”

Read the rest at

Thousands of Malian refugees ‘on verge of going home’ – Irish Times

News of the intensifying clashes in their home country reaches the 12,000 Malian refugees in Mentao camp, Burkina Faso, mainly by word of mouth, meaning much of what they hear is vague or unconfirmed.

Most of them have been absent from their homeland for two years now, but while they still fear for their lives and fear that the violence is escalating, many are making the decision to return anyway.

The camp is just south of Djibo, in the Sahel region, where the temperature often reaches the high 40s. Flies buzz, chickens cluck, and the sound of babies crying is constantly in the air. Amid transient-looking tents with plastic coverings there are solar panels and satellite dishes.

Ali Kassoum (52) is an Arab from Timbuktu – 540km away – and the president of the camp’s mental centre committee. He has been living here since the violence broke out in 2012.

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The 23-year-old with 24 kids: Genocide orphans form their own families – CNN

(CNN) — It’s a sunny April afternoon at the University of Rwanda College of Education in Kigali. Some students huddle in groups conversing in hushed voices; others hurry between buildings carrying books. Exams begin in a week.

On a grassy knoll behind an office block, Jean Claude Nkusi is giving his 24 children a talking to. “Study hard everyone,” he says. “If you work hard you can improve your life and make it better.”

This isn’t your typical family. Nkusi is 23. None of his “children” share his DNA. In fact, the only thing linking them is that they’re all genocide survivors — ethnic Rwandan Tutsis who lost their families in the 1994 violence that killed 800,000 people.

‘It’s because of history’

Creating “artificial families” to help young genocide survivors cope is the brainchild of an organization called the Association for Student Genocide Survivors (AERG). Originally founded by 12 University of Rwanda students in 1996, they’ve expanded to 43,397 university and high school students from across the tiny east-central African country today.

AERG initially creates families from members based on the secondary school or university they attend, after which the newly-formed family meet to democratically elect a willing father and mother from among their ranks. Though they don’t all live together, they do help each other out financially and attempt to pool their resources.

In the University of Rwanda’s College of Education alone there are 21 such families, with hundreds more being set up across the country.

“(We) Rwandans, we used to have big families but during the genocide many people were killed,” says Daniel Tuyizere, AERG’s second vice coordinator at the University of Rwanda.

Read the rest at CNN.comApril 24, 2014

Remembering the Genocide in Rwanda – Medium

In Rwanda no one is playing music. We’re sitting in a bar called Papyrus.

“That’s where there’d usually be karaoke.” The guy I’m with points towards a corner. “The place would normally be packed; wall to wall.”

It’s twenty years since the genocide against the Tutsis — when 800,000 were murdered by their friends, neighbours, and acquaintances — and this is a week of mourning. “Kwibuka20” signs are hung prominently everywhere in capital city Kigali; their slogan: “Remember — unite — renew”.

The past few days have been heavy with disclosures, admissions, apologies. On Saturday a former genocidaire told a packed stadium never to listen to their parents, because his parents were the ones who told him to kill. A Belgian soldier testified that his colleagues had seen “killers wielding machetes” in their rear view mirrors as they left behind the Tutsis they had been protecting. A survivor told us about the moment a Hutu leader told a group of Interahamwe to “start the work”.

On Monday United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced: “We could have done much more. We should have done much more.”

The press have been told to respect the emotions of those we talk to, but on a bus a man asks loudly: “So are there Tutsi or Hutu neighbourhoods?” “Would they just go door to door?” “Were there many incidences where people tried to protect themselves?”

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Rwanda genocide commemorations – Irish Times

I was in Rwanda during the commemoration events for the 20th anniversary of the genocide against the Tutsi. I appeared as a live TV correspondent for Arise News, as well as writing the following pieces for The Irish Times:

Rwanda remembers: “It simply should never have happened”, Irish Times, 8th April 2014

Mary Robinson reflects on Rwanda anniversary, Irish Times, 8th April 2014

(Photo: Press briefing with Rwandan president Paul Kagame and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon)

CNN International’s ‘Connect the World’

Between January and March 2014 I wrote over 50 blogs for CNN International’s ‘Connect the World’. Here are a selection of them:

Compensation for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, March 27 2014

Egyptian court sentences 528 people to death after mass trials, March 26 2014

Why is a “black box” orange?, March 26 2014

#Nomakeupselfies for Cancer Research, March 24 2014

UN International Happiness Day, March 21 2014

Fresh lead in Madeleine McCann case, March 20 2014

Drive Another Day: Bond’s classic cars, March 19 2014

Ambassador: Sanctions must be “painful to Russians”, March 18 2014

Remembering Sir David Frost, March 18 2014

Could a plane hide from radar detection? March 18 2014

Russia-Ukraine: Whose side is law on? March 12 2014

Barroso: “Peace and stability” are paramount, March 7 2014

Man Utd in trouble on and off the pitch, February 27 2014