Commemoration: Restoring hope through poetry

Through the beautiful art of poetry, young poets and poetesses have scripted heartfelt poems with inspiring messages meant to support the country in this period of commemorating the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

Society magazine’sEdwin Ashimwe had a chat with some of them who shared the inspiration behind their poems and how such messages can contribute to the healing journey.

Eric Ngangare:  A renowned poet in Rwanda, Ngangare believes such messages through poetry can restore hope not only to the survivors but also the millions of people and families who lost their loved ones.

His poem ‘On memory and hope’ reflects on how hard it can be to survive such tragedies, nonetheless encouraging survivors to keep fighting because to him ‘survival above all is the struggle to stay sane.’

“When I wrote the poem, I thought of not only survivors but all Rwandans affected by this past, because we are all affected. Through this reflection, I focused on the question of mental health.  I really hope for this poem and my work as a whole to help heal the wounded, to be a cane that the weak can use to continue walking, to be the drop of water that refreshes, to be the voice that whispers fantastic dreams in children’s sleep. I want us to be alive,” he says.

On memory and hope

Suicidal thoughts jam on memory lane

Survival above all is a struggle to stay sane

Yet somehow you maintained

Bet no external consciousness would last a day in your brain

The past is non reversible, and present isn’t always a gift

The future unpredictable especially when gazed from a cliff

But since the only way is forward, familiarise with haze and mist

Trust the process; believe in the magic of life

Have faith in darkness when the stars and the moon don’t shine

If you can make it through the night, well, the sun will rise like a prize

I wish you find purpose and relief before you get to rest

You survived the worst; I hope you live to see the best

For what it’s worth, you’re worth it

Amina Umuhoza:The young aspiring poetess, is the brains behind the poem titled “ The sparkle of the sun” a poem that depicts the ache survivors still carry from the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

According to her, through such poems, she hopes to touch many lives and help them overcome psychological traumas that many seem to battle with.

 “I was born in 1996 just two years after the Genocide against the Tutsi, growing up with different tales about the tragedy, seeing people with wounds and hatred inspired me to use my poetry so as to be able to transform many.”

The sparkle of the sun

The storm is over and the rain is over

But I can still hear the voice of the thunder

And that makes me tremble with the fear,

I recall very well our history.

Strength, wisdom and patriotism were our true colours

Smile, love and unity were our costume

Milk, honey and meat were our daily meal but

Unfortunately, the darkness fell apart.

They had divided us like slices of bread

Colonialists tricked us. They had deeply changed our mind-set, and they introduced

SHIKU as if we were the slaves.

Weakness, failure became our true colour

Hatred and jealousy became our costume

Poverty and idleness transformed us into misery

Finally, Genocide invaded our nation.

I try, I cry but I fail.

I could not control my sorrow

It is hard not to remember the terrible

And horrible history of Rwandans

Blood was everywhere and anywhere

Even in the churches, the tears of orphans

And widows were like a death song

The country was completely dead,

But being a Tutsi was more than crime.

They raped our mothers and sisters regardless to how they matter they named them snakes and cockroaches, rubbish and trash were the names for children, that was Rwanda.

Nkuko ibitonyanga by’amarira bitasubira aho byavuye

As the tear drops cannot return to where they came from

We cannot change our past, but we change our future with

Reconciliation as the fountain of development

Ndi umunyaRwanda is the cornerstone of our solidarity and we belong to the same family as we forgive and ask for forgiveness

The past should not be our master

Traumatism should not intimidate our thoughts, sadness should not be our flag and misery should not be our motto.

Our minds need to be refreshed our attitude needs to be repaired

Our reputation needs to be painted our history needs to be improved

but our hearts should be renewed because renewal is not the renovation of the old but it’s the birth of the new.

The pain was harsh to endure but I see the sparkle of the sun .

The sparkle of the success is attained, the stream of the progress is closer and the fruit of love is reaped and hope changed our lifestyle.

Leaves of branches and branches of trees remind you, April  a month where you have lost

your lovely families and friends that you used to hung out with, you cried for uncountable nights but you have decided to stay strong and stronger than before

You remained with broken pieces but don’t worry you brought

the broken pieces together ,together to honour the people you lost, together to build something new, something unique

All the dreams that they had are now your daily homework

As we link our hands together, shoulder to shoulder, weak, short, strong or tall, walking together let’s remember, unite and renew

Joan Ndekezi: Through her inspiring piece, Ndekezi highlights the need for Rwandans to stay united now that they found their true identity.

We have risen and still rise

Blood Flooded my mother land,

Amaso yanjye abona; mountains, lakes and rivers of my country covered by blankets of pestilence. I couldn’t believe what I saw...

The beauty and reality of nature disappeared in just a blink of an eye.

 Hearts turned to stones.

Minds contaminated with fallacies.

Hands with knives, pangas, Machetes ...death,

aiming mercilessly to steal a soul.

The image of God hidden, in the illusions of hatred....

Interahamwe was their new name.

Mana Yanjye, Baranyishe screamed my soul.

Pain deeply stabbing me,

Fear drowning me completely, for I was their victim.

Ntabara Mana, my heart cried.

God indeed heard me.

Yes, he saved me.

Yes, you and I forgot our identity,

But that was all in the past!

Today our history no longer defines us;

We are a people of Agaciro,

We are men and women of dignity,

We are one.

Turabanyarwanda kandi,

Turangwa: N’urukundo

 Ubumwe no kubabarira.

Look!

Like a proverbial griffin, we have risen from the ashes,

Like eagles watch us, we are flying right from the scratches.

Like fighters, we are reaching out to grab what was stolen from us.

Sam Asiimwe Ruhindi:He wrote his poem ‘Ode to motherland’ to give a message to the current generation and the generations to come that what happened in 1994 will never happen again.

Ode to motherland

Cloudburst of bullets

Millions of innocent quenched machetes

Streams of blood drained our land

Acrid sent covered heavens

Vultures and Reynard fed

The world turned a blind eye

The days were filled with ichor

And nights short to the hunted

They said love is the way and answer

But look how they treated us

Made us believers and we

Slew each other furiously

Brushing aside our brotherhood

what was a family became a ruin 

Twenty five years down the road

The light glistered again

In the land of thousand hills

We now remember to keep

Alive memories of genocide

To teach our selves

Our children and

Children after them

Not to judge each other by

Their ethnicity, height

Or shape of nose

We remember not to revenge

But to learn from our history x2

To unite and save our future

A thousand candles are lit

Every year as a sign of peace

We want to pass on to

Our children and generation after them

We walk in same rhyme

ND’UMUNYARWANDA X3

We bind together saying never again

To genocide against humanity

Never and never again

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