Saturday, January 8, 2011


Broken skulls of victims bear testimony
It all just... shattered. It's like an earthquake: the fissure is there, and it will stir, it will open, it must be fed. We've built our world on a fissure, dividing "us" and "them," defining our existence by the side and height and strength of where WE stand. Today we're trying to build a house for all, a happy home for humanity where we ignore the cracking and creaking in the basement. Sometimes, the chasm must open. In Rwanda, the walls, doors, windows, curtains, locks, and ceiling of civilization were swallowed in an instant... tearing down with it all rules, morality, relationships, ideas, and histories, except for the laws of hate, the instincts of the beasts, and the blood pooling on the trembling earth.

There were eight million people in Rwanda that day... in 100 days, one million of them were dead. It took Hitler, Pol Pot, Stalin, or Mao years to kill their millions... but they used bullets, gas chambers, detention zones; they had... a system, a system to separate the killers and the killed. How could anything make these murderers of millions look humanitarian? 
Machetes, and hammers, and sharpened stakes. Neighbor hacking neighbor, pastors burning children, protectors raping the dying. Rivers were stopped, streets flowed red, and screams were slaughtered by laughter for 100 days. All face to face, all done by hand, while the hunted beseech the hunters by name. 16 years ago. I was 12.
Bodies from a mass grave containing
250,000 victims, many children from
the nearby school.  They've been preserved
for display at the Huye Genocide Memorial.
And now I'm here, drifting through the florescent green hills, quiet villages, past little rivers and terraced slopes... Such a beautiful place, organized to fine detail, smiles and humility written across every face. It’s clean enough to be called sterile, its streets wide and smooth, and safety is assured by police on every corner. Today, Rwanda is eager to please (a little too eager?) and racing to join a higher stage (a little to quickly?)... It's very hard to see the young ghosts of the blood-washed past walking over the well-paved streets, pleasant hills, and spotless front porches. Where have they gone, so far beyond the world of today? Does it matter, if they've been put to rest? Does it matter, in a shiny new world for all?
Leaving a mysterious place of mist and low light.


  1. Bone-chilling. No writer or documentarian has ever made me reckon with the horror of this genocide in the way that you just did. The thing about the system, vs. just the animal nature of neighbor killing neighbor, is something I've never thought about before, and it's so terrifying.

    I'm glad you're both here & there! =)

  2. Wow...Caleb, that is so impressive and so true.Your photo skills combined with writing skills - that can't let anyone be cold-hearted. I love the way you describe these cruel human deeds in the context of magnificent wild nature... the beautiful Earth. It makes us think. Thank you for it, you're very special. :-*

  3. Caleb,
    You have summarized a terrible, terrible part of history in a very small space on the page. Well done. Fantastic critique of the times as you saw it.

  4. Thank you all! This was an emotional journey for me, naturally, and I'm glad I was able to communicate it in an effecting way!
    Spry: High praise indeed! Yes, it is absolutely spine-chilling, and I don't think many realize how "close to home" the roots of the the problem really are!
    Lenka: I didn't intend to draw so many comparisons to nature! But it makes sense, without intending it: the forces that pushed the genocide seemed more than human; stronger, wilder, more terrible. Flood and earthquakes are the only image that comes close! Thanks for you interest and kind comment!
    Dad: Thank you! I'm finally getting a handle on my wordiness, I think! :-)