Friday, February 03, 2006

the guy

i realized a unique benefit to being in the provo-orem area today; the two colleges provide two very different platforms for hearing speakers. at byu, we can hear prophets and apostles, as well as general authorities and other notable speakers, like the guy who coined the term 'aerobics.' he was rather interesting, while justice sandra day o'connor was somewhat dull.
uvsc provides a wider variety, as pointed out by warner woodworth, most imfamously michael moore and sean hannity. we talked about this as we waited to hear paul rusesabegina speak this afternoon.
who is that?
he's the 'hotel rwanda' guy. not the director or the writer or the actor, but the guy.

he told us his story. about the divisions between the tutsi and hutu tribes, about how 1,000,000 people were killed in 100 days for no reason other than their heritage. he talked of having guns to his head, of the u.n. 'peacekeeping soldiers' who sat and watched one tribe kill another and do nothing, of being the only person in the hotel who could talk to the militia and keep them from killing everyone inside, of having their water cut off and having to ration out water
from the swimming pool, where every hotel refugee could only take one wastebasket full of water enough for that dat, and how he watched the water slowly go down, wondering when the nightmare would end; he commented on the end of the movie, when he and his wife found the two orphaned children of his brother, that that was not made up, but in reality they were only 2 years and 9 months old.

listening to him speak, i had to keep reminding myself that this really happened. while i was enjoying my last summer before high school, this man was hiding 1200 people in his hotel and sending his wife and children off with u.n. workers to be safe and negotiating with humans who had lost their humanity. i've seen the movie, and heard him tell it, and still cannot begin to comprehend what happened.

near the end, he remarked about hearing someone important speak about the jewish holocaust and what mr. rusesabegina described as the two most misused words: 'never again.'
it happens everyday in africa, he told us, and listed off ghana, the ivory coast, and several other places were such a genocidal holocaust has occured.

a few years after the massacre, paul and his family fled to belgium as refugees themsevles. he saved enough money to buy a taxi, and later a second. now he owns a trucking company.

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