Thursday, November 29, 2007


Old machetes are everywhere: in young boy's hands, in old men's hands, in women's hands. The French and Chinese machetes where issued during the events because they were cheaper to use than rifles and guns for which one needs bullets. And 'who wants to spend a bulled on a cockroach?' the saying went. So the shock of seeing a machete made me wonder, did this one kill. Who's hand wielded it. Who responded to the prejudice and hate spewed by radio Mille Collines. Was the machete used in hate, in protection? What did the guy who just passed me do and does he love his children? Is he a strict father? I saw a women standing in her front door, holding the machete in front of her and squarely looking at the people in the cavalcade of official looking buses. How to read such an image... Was she saying you didn't do anything when we needed protection or why didn't you stop us before we all became killers and killed. Every one has been touched by the 100 days that started on April 7, 1994.

Lets teach tolerance, stop prejudice at its earliest beginning and lets talk and listen to each other. Ahimsa: let's not harm life. Let's not turn tools into weapons.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


'One Life', was the event a friend and I attended in the Genocide Memorial in Kigali. The introduction made by the British NGO working for the prevention of genocide, Aegis Trust - meaning protection - was exemplary: using the local drama to show the working of intolerance in the world. It always starts with words and ideas and once it starts, genocide respects no one. It kills those who cannot fight back. How can one be sheltered From the prejudice of racism. Ives was little, just 5 years old. He should be 18 today, but there was nobody to protect him. And then all the broken lives of the survivors, raped, maimed, lost everything. Michel then 15, now 28, spoke about what happened to him: He lost 20 family members, couldn't bury his mother, the dogs ate part of her... He and two young sisters survived the events that started April 7, 1994. Now he feels he needs to testify. He studies sociology, works for the memorial and helps his sisters... After his sober words 'Sometime in April' a film by Raoul Peck was shown. Bone chilling, amazing, also in the little gestures of kindness that leaves one a bit of hope. What always starts all this killing everywhere is greed, arrogance and power and stupidity. Afterwards I was raw, filled, empty, overflowing and found myself in the dark tropical night on one of the thousand hills. Any mechanical repetitive sound flashed back to gunfire... The taxi driver was untypically silent with vacant eyes. We cannot imagine, never know what survivors go through. Yet we should not forget, we are all children of survivors, we are all survivors... So lets be gentle with each other...

Sunday, November 25, 2007


Tourism helps beat poverty. There are jobs for the maintenance of the park, for for drivers, cooks, waiters, rangers, cleaners, guides. One person working can actually maintain a whole extended family. I liked the lush tropical plants and the giraffes are my favorite. The extra gift of a trip to a park is that you get to see what is outside the capital. We saw giraffes, zebras, baboons, velvet monkeys, impalas, antelope, hippopotamus, weaver birds, fish eagles and lots of greatly colored birds. The fields in the mountains are grand, I can recognize a banana field across the mountain in its special hue of greens. They cover the houses and make even the city look rural. That was the day of rest.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

La petite saison de pluie

La petite saison des pluies is full of melancholy because arriving in a country where in 100 days
a million plus people have been killed while the world stood by and watched, makes you think and try to understand. Rwanda, the country of the thousand hills could be a paradise. The weather is tropical but the hight makes it pleasant. The soil is fertile, all is extravagantly green. But it also is the most densely populated country of Africa where the medium income per year is 250 $. People are afraid, thirteen years later the events and the wounds they left are open and raw. Hundred thousands of women have been raped so HIV is rife and it becomes up close and personal when in the hotel you don't get a complementary mint on your pillow, but two packets of condoms.

The mist over the hills is real, but I didn't go and disturb the Gorillas. Every nook and cranny, the smallest, steepest plot of land is planted: banana trees, corn, manioc, papaya, mango... During the genocide people were told that if they killed their Tutsi neighbor they could keep the land. And land is what the people wanted, needed to feed their family.

Yet, there is beauty, gentleness and smiles, courage and lots of empty eyes. A lot of Women's cooperatives work together in networks and teach the women to manage their own small business, and provide health care and retroviral anti aids medication.

If you go to museums and safaris, you wouldn't notice the hardship but if you manage to talk to people, you will be moved at a deeper level.

The mournful pale purple blue jacaranda blooms in Kigali.

Friday, November 23, 2007


If one thinks of visiting Africa one thinks safari and dances. I'll oblige with a few pictures of both. This group performs at a lot of official functions to honor foreign guests. The women show the daily gestures of their life with easy grace, the energy of the men is balm on a tired soul.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Day of imprisoned writers

People and places we have never heard of, still are people and places that are part of our world and part of our human family. We still are responsible to act non-violently on their behalf and speak out. Today, think of all the writers in prison, all the writers who have been murdered, just for speaking out. This year alone already 33 writers that Writers in Prison Committee of Pen knows of have been ruthlessly silenced. Free speech is a human right. And so is the integrity of the person.

I'll be off line till the end of next week. I am on the road and probably will learn a lot.

And by the way: Free all writers, free also Leonard Peltier.

Ahimsa: try not to harm what is alive.

Monday, November 12, 2007


I saw a girl today whose hair was wider than her hips...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Food for the soul

In one of the prettiest or at least most impressive streets of my town, an artist family holds a yearly literary salon. It is an honor to be invited because they manage to know and invite people who have read their work at Poetry International and other such places with a high degree of recognition. Seen the reading and explaining of how the work or collaboration between poets and graphic artists came about is done in their living room, everyone is very approachable and unpretentious so that real exchange is possible. Poetry was read in about six languages and then also some translations. Good food, good vibes, food for thought and the soul if we have one.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


A skein of geese flies over. The leader pulls them west, north-west, straight into the storm, the gale winds over sea. What motivates them: are they training for the geese Olympic 'flying against the wind'? Are they thrill seekers? Or do they have a vision of a faraway pole with gentle winters? Other skeins decide to follow them and it becomes quite a trek. Maybe they are all just lost, at a loss as to where to go, what to do. So they fly. And so do I.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Free Tibet

Next to a bar two monks worked from Tuesday till Thursday night to create a mandala. Next to the noise and the high charged energy of a political world, was a heaven of meditation and tranquility. At the end, ceremoniously the sand painting is destroyed, effaced and the sand is distributed in tiny bags. It is beautiful and serene to watch the creation, to accept the ephemerity of things and to receive some of the sand on the top of one's head. Some of us were blessed with the reminder of tranquility, ahimsa and mindfulness. Buddhism as a path of life requires practice and rituals, reminding us of Dharma, the wheel of life and non-violence. These monks reminded us of the need of Tibet to be free so that this culture and teaching is not lost to the world. Free Tibet. Ahimsa.

Saturday, November 3, 2007


Spookie is of two people trying kindly to give me a musical education. So I get to listen to lesser known, but good performers. Ensemble Cannamella is a group of recorders, dulcimer, lute, theorbe, clavichord and a traveling bell instrument. See the tiny instrument? That is the one. They also play the violin and my favorite of all times the viola da gamba. The music they chose was all by 17 century Flemish composers, or having stayed in the region for a while. The old folksong were sung by an excellent soprano. It was a light hearted evening about love and drinking wine in the pub and walking in gardens listening to the tweeting of birds and the calling of the cuckoo. All this in a recently renovated old church. Balm on a busy mind.

Thursday, November 1, 2007


I have become a painter, strictly monochromatic, using different textures and shades of white. I have become a closet painter and might soon venture into some blacks and radiators... So my time between work and trying to get a flat done has been sparse and blogging to my chagrin has been neglected. The move to the eagle's nest with the stunning view is for the end of November or beginning of December depending on the availability of an outside lifts to hoist up to the 12th floor the stuff that doesn't fit in a small old elevator. When I asked one of the workers to help with getting the doors ready to paint since 'I couldn't get off some of the stuff', he replied, "Yes, now see, you are a woman, there is some difference yet..."