The movie HOTEL RWANDA was Hollywood’s version of what happened in Rwanda during the genocide. Although they tried to tell a horrific story …. the real truth is far more shocking in cruel. A book saw the light a year ago …… Their story is a bit closer to the truth and look at the fact that the genocide in Rwanda is still relevant today. Here is their cover version from the book: In the hotel Rwanda, we thought of ourselves as many things: refugees, hotel employees, victims. At times we considered ourselves prisoners—glad to be alive, but at the same time stuck inside this building with nowhere else to go. And as captives in this luxurious dungeon, we had one very bad prison guard [Paul Rusesabagina], who, like many classically corrupt sentries, exploited us and treated us poorly. But one thing we never considered ourselves to be was hostages. The genocide was raging outside ……. (Read more at the end of this article!)
I could hardly contain my excitement as we flew over Kilimanjaro on our way to Rwanda. Dar-Es-Salaam was tough in many ways. Struggles with customs – paying all we had to get our already paid Bibles back was tough enough. I have been in Rwanda many times but this time was different. Collecting us at the airport was Steven Turinkukiko ….. an amazing leader. He has not just survived the genocide but ….. adopted nearly 16 children and raised them with his own. As usual we overloaded the vehicles. We were traveling with some of the most amazing, fearless men of God available. They have a unique calling – they carry the church planting DNA deep in their fibers. Our mission and goal was simply to get the core national leaders of Rwanda together and not just teach – but show them how to plant sustainable churches in a police state. I have written many stories on the horrors of Rwanda and the genocide that left 1 000 000 people hacked to death – so to bring hope and transformation that will change the nation forever was something that left me very excited.
The moment you arrive over the country of a thousand hills (I counted them lol) you realize that it is very different than any other country you have visited. It’s French influenced ….. a lot of hugging and talking …. and yes we drive on the ‘wrong’ side of the road. The country, being a police state, is neatly organized, very clean and security forces are placed with neatly dressed and equipped soldiers everywhere. We came equipped too! We were received by nearly 100 active church planters and they were ready to plant churches across the many hills of Rwanda. Here is the story …… and I love telling it through pictures ………
HISTORY: RWANDA – THE STORY CONTINUES
Actually, certain people within the militias and the interim government had earlier on considered taking us hostage, as a pawn in future negotiations. The UN peacekeepers felt if this was allowed before any formal agreement for peace or a cease-fire had already been reached, the prisoner exchange would be imbalanced. Whoever had hostages—especially higher-profile ones—would already have the upper hand in any negotiation. This went into the peacekeepers’ thinking when they decided their best move would be to get the refugees back to the hotel, where they could protect us until the negotiations were further along. This is something we all wish we had been more aware of when we spent the latter days of the genocide within the hotel compound. We may have been incrementally safer, but we were not, in fact, safe. Yet at the time it was all happening, we were mostly kept in the dark regarding the political intrigue going on around us and involving us.
Some of us wondered why Paul Rusesabagina, suspected of giving our names to RTLM hate radio, had put his own wife on one of the transports. Did he feel that because he considered himself an important man, friend to thegénocidaires, she would be left unharmed while others were murdered or beaten? Did he think putting her on the truck after providing the passenger manifest would protect all the refugees on board? No one could say for sure, but Wellars Gasamagera, a mature and wise man, might have said it best and most succinctly: “It shows that he is nothing.”
A major turning point in the war occurred on May 22 when the RPF took control of the Kanombe Military Camp, and eight hundred Rwandan soldiers and their families surrendered to General Dallaire. He handed them over to the Red Cross, which handed them over to the RPF and oversaw their captivity. The detention of those surrendered soldiers and their families, along with some of the Hutu refugees who were in the Hotel Méridien and the King Faisal Hospital, put pressure on the interim-government militia to protect the refugees at the Hotel des Mille Collines. The RPF controlled the Amahoro National Stadium in Kigali and used it as an internment camp. Many of the killers who marched under the Hutu Power banner were now corralled there or else had friends who were there. Those of us in the hotel were an asset for thegénocidaires, who were in need of a truce when they realized they were losing the war. The interim government cajoled the Interahamwe, telling them they could not kill the people in the hotel because those people would be exchanged for their members and families in the RPF zone.
On May 22, Ghanaian Major General Yaache, a sector commander and military observer of UNAMIR, and his humanitarian team, which included French statesman Bernard Kouchner, held an important meeting at the Hotel des Diplomates with Colonel Bagosora and the Interahamwe to officially discuss hostage transfers. Rumors spread throughout the hotel community, positive rumors of impending freedom and a road to safety. Yet there were those among us still nursing their wounds from the beatings they took at Sopecya Station. Would the Interahamwe, who appeared completely out of control and only interested in bloodlust, actually go along with a wholesale plan to allow us to leave the hotel? RTLM radio still pumped them full of roaring hatred and murderous thoughts on a daily basis. The tenor had not changed since April 6. These people were easily led, with minds full of irrational fears and paranoia, and deep-seated personal insecurities that made them suspicious and jealous of anyone of reason or intellect. They were the hate-filled bigots of our nation, now fully immersed in government-sanctioned violence. Once they had legally tasted blood, committed vicious murder and rape, could they ever turn back?
Hope was all that got us through each day and each night. But was hope just a mirage?
Copyright © 2014. Reprinted by permission. Excerpted from the book Inside the Hotel Rwanda: The Surprising True Story … and Why It Matters Today, published by BenBella Books. Available on Amazon.