Wednesday, January 7, 2015

An Excerpt from Lamentation of a Warrior

The following is an excerpt from Lamentation of a Warrior:


Volcanoes National Park – Mount Muhabura, Rwanda

April 1994

As Joseph Kalisa ascended Mount Muhabura, he turned and glanced down at the numerous bodies floating in the Twin Lakes of Burera and Ruhondo at the base of the mountain.  It was midmorning and the view would have been spectacularly pleasant, had it not been for the corpses floating in the lakes below.  Joseph then thought of the international law books on the desk of his office, thousands of miles away in Washington, D.C., and about the 1948 Genocide Convention, which made genocide a crime under an international law.  The law must be enforced, he thought.  Yet, it was not.  So, he had become a soldier in one of the many battalions of a rebel army.

Assigned to one of the platoons within the battalion, Joseph and other rebel soldiers in his platoon ascended the verdant base of Mount Muhabura, one of the mountains of Volcanoes National Park. 

He was in his homeland, Rwanda, for the first time in fourteen years.  Two days ago, Joseph had a filling meal of sorghum porridge and beans, yet he had walked off that meal in the two day trek into Rwandan territory. He was a part of a two platoon group.  Joseph was tired and hungry.  His feet and legs ached.  His shoulders and back were sore from the weight of the M-60 machine gun over his left shoulder, the M-9 Pistol in the holster on his waist, additional ammunition, his backpack, which contained his tent, food rations, personal items, extra clothes, and a blanket.

Joseph thought about what Colonel Alexander Nkusi, who commanded their battalion, had said two days earlier, that killing groups were brutally killing Tutsi people, because of their ethnicity.  He then thought of his family in Rwanda, his mother, his sister, and her children and husband.  What was happening to them?  He hoped that they’d miraculously survived the genocidal mass murders which were taking place all over his homeland.  He wanted to see his family members and embrace them.

Sweat poured down Joseph’s back.  He remembered his life growing up in his homeland of Rwanda.  His mother was related to Rwandan royalty, although the official monarchy was defunct and no longer had any power.  His father, who was murdered in 1973, had been a professor at the National University of Rwanda, before he was killed.

Joseph pondered on the signs of eventual disaster.  His father was murdered, and, three years later, he was expelled from the Lycee, where he was an exemplary student.  Joseph remembered that his expulsion was for no apparent reason.  It was the ethnic division issue, coming back again, he thought.  There was widespread harassment and killings of the Tutsi people during that time.  These events convinced his mother to send him to Cameroon to attend school and to save his life.

Joseph survived and rebuilt his life in Cameroon, and then in the U.S.A.  Yet, the ethnic division issue in his homeland kept getting worse, as his family and friends conveyed their experiences to him in phone conversations and desperate letters.

He thought about his recent lifestyle back in Washington, D.C.  Two months ago, he was a corporate lawyer in a prestigious law firm in the heart of Washington, D.C.  He had graduated from Princeton University and Georgetown Law School.  He enjoyed life with his beautiful wife, Sojourner, and his toddler son, Joseph II.  They lived in an elegant condominium.  That life seemed like a dream, as he climbed up the mountain.

Copyright © 2007
By Angeline Bandon-Bibum

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