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Cry Rwanda - A Prayer for Forgiveness

In 1994, I watched the events of the Tutsi genocide in Rwanda unfold from my living room in Toronto, Canada. I felt distant from the crisis, insulated, safe, and powerless. At the same time, I was in anguish that people could kill other people, especially those whom they previously called friend. Within one hundred days, 800,000 lives were lost. It seems to me that they were a preventable loss, if the world truly valued those lives. While a poem is such an inadequate response to the depth of that loss, I was honoured to share it at genocide commemoration events in Canada and Rwanda.

 

 

How many days 

 

does it take
 

to cry

 

one

tear

 

for

 

 

one child

one grandfather

one teacher

one sister

one mother

one elder

father

 

one brother

 

one lover

 

one friend

 

 

 

 

Dead.

 

 

Killed.

 

 

In Rwanda.

 

 

 

How many tears?

 

 

How many years?

 

 

 

Cry

 

 

Cry for me, Rwanda

 

 

I was here.

 

I was safe.

 

I’m so ashamed

 

Ashamed some people count you worthless

 

 

 

 

You are not worthless.

 

 

 

You are loved.

 

 

No number of tears

 

streams

 

rivers

 

fountains

 

can wash away the blood

 

on these hands

 

which failed to help

 

 

 

 

Cry

 

 

I cry for you, Rwanda



So much suffering, unspeakable pain



I close my eyes and see the bodies



I read your stories and cry again




Five hundred and fifty-five



That’s the number of days it takes



to mourn each death


with one minute of tears


Share a moment of remembrance with me now




the ones who died

the ones who killed

the ones can’t forget

 



I pray to God you can forgive



I pray to God you will have dreamless sleeps

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