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Cry Rwanda - A Prayer for Forgiveness

In 1994, I watched the events of the genocide perpetrated against the Tutsi 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, over 1,000,000 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. Later, some Rwandans requested a third verse to recognise the progress that has been made towards peace. I added one, below.



How many days


does it take

to cry








one child

one grandfather

one teacher

one sister

one mother

one elder

one father


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

Mourn deeply

the ones who died

the ones who killed

the ones who can’t forget

I pray to God you can forgive

I pray to God you will have dreamless sleeps







Cry for peace, Rwanda

Let justice flow down like rivers

And peace like everlasting streams



We will never forget the lost ones, the lost years

But we will never be enslaved to them again



Proclaim it aloud –

all are equal


Sisters and brothers in one family

Let every life be precious

Let every one be loved



May you know that you are priceless


May you grow into an abundance of love


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