by Kate Twaddle
|The Nyamata Genocide Graves and Memorial|
The first church was brick and had a covering over the top to protect it. There were holes in the walls where grenades were thrown in, blood stains on the walls, and bones stacked on shelves according to their type and NOT their owner. The people’s clothing who died there were also draped over the cross beams.
The second church was even more crushing than the first. It contained what was left of it’s original doors, which had a hole blown through it by a grenade. The grenade also chipped large chunks out of the cement side walk that leads up to the churches entrance and put holes in the roof that covers the doors. As you walked through the doors you saw more clothing from the deceased draped over the benches where people would have sat during church. At the front of the church the altar was still intact but covered with people’s belongings including: weapons, identification cards, and jewelry. I couldn’t believe these weapons were organized on top of a place where at our church, we would have come together to break bread.
An addition was added under the church to “display” skulls that clearly showed how that person died - something that in my opinion ripped away people’s dignity. This is when I walked back up the stairs and left the tour. I could not fathom the fact that specific bones were taken from people’s bodies to make a “memorial”. Through what we call “preserving” buildings, it seems like lives and stories were destroyed. Given this, are these churches “memorials” or are they really just depressing tourist attractions?