An award winning Canadian play reflecting a reconciliation message, has now been translated into the local Kinyarwanda language and is being played in almost every corner of the country.
‘The Monument’, the name of the 70-minute play when performed in Kinyarwanda with no intermissions, portrays a young soldier from an unnamed country who was convicted of genocide crimes, but is mysteriously offered freedom by a woman survivor.
It was in 1992 when a Canadian playwright, Colleen Wagner, produced the first original piece that was meant to reflect what had been going on in Yougoslavia and elsewhere in the world where war crimes were becoming the buzz word.
But the Director and Producer of The Monument’s 2009, Jennifer Herszman Capraru, of the group Ensemble Spring, says its relevance applies to what happened in Rwanda as well.
“Every war is the same war,” she said during an interview The New Times, in Kigali.
“Whether they are fighting about land, ethnicity, religion or money, it is all the same, war, and I think women and children pay the highest price.”
During the play, Stetko, the young soldier is found guilty of having raped and killed 23 girls during the war.
When he is asked to identify places where their bodies are, he hesitates but finally leads the woman survivor, Mejra, to the forest and helps even recall their real names.
According to Capraru, the fact that perpetrator Stetko manages to recognise his wrongdoing and apologises to Mejra, attributes to the play an educational role as an addition to the reconciliation process that is required in a war-torn community.
“When I was young I could only imagine ‘No you can’t do this to my family and I’m going to forgive you,” says Capraru who is a daughter of a survivor of the Holocaust.
“It’s actually coming to Rwanda that has brought me to thinking about forgiveness and its possibility.”
She thinks that people in such a society need to understand that there is always a possibility to live together and work for a common good, which is what The Monument tries to bring out.
Premiered on July 4 2008 at the National University of Rwanda in Butare, actors of The Monument have since then taken it to Gisenyi, Gitarama, Cyangugu, Ruhengeri, Kibuye and it was recently played at Heaven Restaurant in Kigali.
The Monument’s Kinyarwanda translation is the sixth since the theatre’s inception, and was done by members of the Isoko Theatre Source, a new international company which uses contemporary theatre to contribute to cultural development and social harmony in Rwanda.