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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 child

one grandfather

one teacher

one sister

one mother

one elder



one brother


one lover


one friend











In Rwanda.




How many tears?



How many years?







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








can wash away the blood


on these hands


which failed to help








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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