Lessons from conversations with my past

Part one: {the intimate}

I am 20 years old.

This means,

I was born 2 years after the Genocide against the Tutsi.

If you know me,

You know I breathe, eat and sleep Rwanda

My life… is Rwanda

And Rwanda… is my life.

My drive in life… is Rwanda

And when I say Rwanda

I not only mean:

All the pain of loosing over a million people

All the hurt of being orphaned and widowed

All the shame from turning on our own

All the loneliness that comes with these memories

But also,

All the…

Success stories

The forgiveness

The justice

The rebuilding

The trail blazing

The community

My identity as a Rwandan,

Is one of growth,

Not just any growth,

But a chance of reflection.


Has taught me the meaning of love, and hard work

The importance of the past…

Can I change it? No!

Does it determine the future? No!

I can rise from nothing to something,

I can rise from a story of failure and doom

To a story of empowerment and motivation.

But I cannot be any of this,

Witness any of this evolution in me

Without a conversation with my past.


Part two: {the flag-waver}


What drives me to be proud, solely and wholeheartedly, of Rwanda?

What is it about Rwanda allows me to say,

“I would die for you” and mean it?


Part three: {the lesson}

22 years ago,

Women and men who dined and laughed together,

Girls and boys who grew up together,

Through the manufacture of an ideology hundreds of years ago

Long before 1959,

Became strangers and enemies

So much it led to a massacre of an ethnic group.


[We] cried for help

Until [we] realized what Malcolm X meant when he said, “Nobody can you give freedom. [You] must take it”

It, took women and men, so passionate about their country

To take their freedom.

This is my ancestry.

This is where I come from

These are the souls and spirits that reside in me.

This is strength and selflessness

I bring to the table.


Part four: {the purpose}

Huey Newton said,

“The revolution has always been in the hands of the young. The young inherit the revolution.”

I am 20 years old,

Born 2 years after the genocide,

My ancestors fought for what I now proudly wear on my sleeve as home,

And now, we begin to Passover the torch

I remember so I can take over the revolution


As Chinua Achebe said,

“Until the lions write their own histories, tales of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.”

And [I] through remembering,

Through conversations with my past,

[i] begin to write [our] history

[i] begin to tell our story

[we] begin to take back our power.


I remember so [we] can ensure,

The ideologies of genocide are not inherited

But rather the spirit of resilience, love and forgiveness.


Part five: {the migration}

It is April in Rwanda.

7000 miles away, this means spring.

A time of growth when flowers bloom and warmth prevails

April in my heart is Rwanda,

The rain days, the silence and the mourning

A chance to reflect and grow in a different season.


22 years later,

Ask me why I remember

Because 100 names each year for 22 years

Has not covered all those lives lost

There will never be enough time for us to remember the loss of over a million lives.


These are the conversations with my Past.


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