The Documentalist Returns from Rwanda
As you know, I was away in Kigali Rwanda from May 22 through June 2, 2010. The trip was a fantastic whirlwind–mind opening, heartbreaking, and inspiring all at once. I look forward to processing all of experiences I had and interviews I conducted in coming months. In the meantime, here is a brief taste of what I saw and did.
The majority of my work was made possible by Yves and Emery at the Kigali Genocide Memorial Center, an amazing organization dedicated to preserving the memory of the 1994 genocide and uncovering the processes leading up to it in order to prevent another event like it in Rwanda or elsewhere. I met Yves and Emery through my colleagues Christian and T-Kay at the University of Texas Libraries at Austin. They had invited me to accompany them to Kigali to see the digital archive they are creating with KMC, as well as to work on my documentation interviews with a number of human rights and genocide NGOs in Kigali. I could not have accomplished anything without the help of Christain, T-Kay, Yves, and Emery. Christian and T-Kay provided the opportunity, Yves opened doors, and Emery served as my translator and cultural guide for my time in Kigali.
Soon I will write up a brief overview of the types of organizations I visited and some of the impressions I gained, but in the meantime I’ll say that one important highlight of my trip was visiting the mountain gorillas in Volcano National Park. Visiting these wonderful creatures in their native home was the perfect antidote to the weighty issues related to genocide and human rights that seem to permeate life in Kigali. The group we visited was called “Amahoro,” which means “Peace,” and consisted of 17 gorillas that we stayed within 15 feet of for over an hour. It was an amazing experience!