“Say you’re one of them.” are the last desperate words of a mother to her young daughter as she ponders her own extinction in Rwanda. Nigerian author Uwen Akpan uses his exceptional talents as a writer to capture the thoughts and feelings of children living in and through horrific trials in several different African countries. He gives voice to the small and silent among us.
It is shocking to learn about the stark realities of life for many children. The images conjured by Akpan are both unspeakable and compelling, like watching an fatal accident from across the road. Heart racing, incredulity filling a brain, on fire with indignation, I’m certainly not suggesting you read this book unless you want to feel a despair beyond reconciliation. It’s fiction but the truth emerges with hideous clarity. I read it in the car this holiday. Honestly I wanted to see if the author could truly emulate a child’s tone/voice in his storytelling. Unfortunately, his children pierced my very heart. Many unsettling thoughts crowded my mind during the long drive with family to visit relatives over the holidays filled with plenty of warmth, food, love, and safety. I wondered why, why, why? I wondered, what it would be like if I had been born in a different time and place.
Today I found a ray of hope in a talk by Laura Waters Hinson. Filmmaker, Christian and philanthropist, Laura decided to document the process of reconciliation taking place in Rwanda 10 years after the act of genocide took 1 million people in 100 days. In this video she paints a picture of hope by describing the impossible. She bares witness to the visible evidence of peace, rebuilding, unity and healing. Her topic is forgiveness. Her documentary captures the work of hands used to perpetrate atrocities now building homes for their victims. In short, Ms. Hinson provides balance in this world gone mad. She looks at the Rwanda transformation as a model of peace for the rest of the world. Akpan opens our ears to the silent cries of children in pain and in contrast Hinson reveals the versitility of human nature, compassion and the healing power of forgiveness.
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