Archive for the ‘Rwanda’ Category

October 5, 2007


Serving in Rwanda during 1993-94 as UN Force Commander, Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire and his small peacekeeping force found themselves abandoned by the world’s major powers in a vortex of civil war and genocide. At a presentation following his return from Rwanda, a Canadian Forces padre asked Dallaire how, after all he had seen and experienced, he could still believe in God. He answered, I know there is a God because in Rwanda I shook hands with the devil.

I’m currently reading Dallaire’s account entitled Shake Hands with the Devil: The failure of humanity in Rwanda. The following is a journal entry I wrote after spending the better part of a day entrenched in its pages:


It happened in a moment. I looked up from my book, and as I did so Rwanda spun away from me. Another world rushed forward slamming into my view, knocking me off balance. A violent image of rape instantaneously replaced by a chatty couple. My mind teetered between Rwanda and Dupont as my eyes tried quick to play catch up. Where was reality? Dallaire:

As I said goodbye to Beth and the bustling city of Nairobi, I was caught in an emotional mental battle that pitted what I now consider the “real” world–genocide in Rwanda–and the “artificial” world–the detachment and obtuseness of the rich and powerful.

But I was holding a book. And still–as I read the genocide, images of Dupont don’t enter the pages, but when I look up at my surroundings Rwanda creeps in. I slid my focus back to the page. Dallaire: “Perhaps it was a symptom of how far gone I was that I was glad to be back.”

Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire is the highest-ranking military officer ever to suffer openly with post-traumatic stress disorder, making him a moral example for citizens of conscience and militaries worldwide.

Katie Orlemanski