In 1994, I followed the news out of Rwanda as we learned that over a period of 100 days, those identified as Hutus killed some 800,000 others identified as Tutsis, mostly with machetes. Recently returned from a decade working as a foreign correspondent, I considered returning overseas to cover the immediate aftermath, but only briefly: I was pregnant with my third baby, and I knew from experience a pregnant me could not manage the extended stretches without sleep and food which would be required to report on this story, at once complex and horrifyingly simple.
In the two decades since then, I’ve covered conflict close-range and lived in warzones; in the course of that, I’ve been scarred by losses myself. I’ve thought, mostly inconclusively, about what it takes to go on. I continued, too, to follow the news from this African country about the size of Maryland. So when a chance came to visit Rwanda before the genocide’s 20th anniversary, I was at once wary and eager.
I don’t know what is said in the privacy of their homes, but outside their doors, Rwandans discount the Hutu-Tutsi divide these days; President Kagame has led the effort, largely successful it seems, to remake his countrymen into simply Rwandans.