Dark Bilious Vapors

But how could I deny that I possess these hands and this body, and withal escape being classed with persons in a state of insanity, whose brains are so disordered and clouded by dark bilious vapors....
--Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy: Meditation I

Home » Archives » June 2005 » Shades of Reality From the Real Hotel Rwanda...

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06/26/2005: Shades of Reality From the Real Hotel Rwanda...


"Imagine you are a man called Zuzu, living a quiet life in suburban Chicago. Back home in Rwanda you were a big shot, a prince of the streets in the capital city of Kigali. You were also feared as a suspected member of the Interahamwe, one of the Hutu militias that caused the green hills of Rwanda to run with the blood of your Tutsi ethnic rivals.

If half the things your accusers say about you are true, you had the power to spare a life or take one with the wink of an eye.

They say you took part in the slaughter of 800,000 men, women and children in 100 spring days in 1994. The victims were machine-gunned while praying in church and blown up while bathing their newborn babies. They were hacked to death limb by limb with machetes and thrown into rivers. Husbands were killed in front of their wives and then the wives were raped in front of their children. Infants were bashed with clubs. Why not? They were just cockroaches; at least that's what the Hutu militiamen called them.

Eventually, though, your side lost. The Tutsis rallied and threw tens of thousands of Hutus into overcrowded, crumbling stone prisons. Some of the most brutal or most unlucky were tied to poles driven into the dusty red clay of a soccer field, sheathed in black hoods and shot through the heart and head in front of thousands of cheering survivors.

You managed to escape capture and ran-all the way to the United States.

You are smart and tough and it wasn't all that hard to get the gates of America to open up: You lied.

Easy as that. You changed your name and turned reality on its head by telling immigration officials that you were a victim of the genocide.

Maybe you had to bite your tongue not to laugh when you said it. But whatever you did, you persuaded the American bureaucrat sitting across from you at an immigration center in Zambia to hand you the keys to your new country.

In your heart you are still a prince, even though in America you are just a clerk at the Chika Market in Bolingbrook, selling goat meat and Plantain Fufu Flour.

From morning to night, immigrants from Nigeria, Chad, Ghana, Rwanda and elsewhere come into the store to purchase a small taste of home.

One day, a countryman recognizes you. He sounds the alarm: Zuzu is alive and he is here.

The ghosts of the past begin to close in..."

They found this man, Zuzu, living in a small, rather non-descript house in Romeoville, Illinois.

Give the rest of the article a full read at the link above.

Karen on 06.26.05 @ 02:31 PM CST

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