|dwell far back in the wilderness, whose ancestors were the owners and possessors of the land where we dwell, and who for a very small consideration assigned their inheritance to us.”
We need to stop denying our extremely violent past and present—to the Indians, to those who were in slavery, and to others. Let me give you a current example.
Over ten years ago when we were trying to ban handguns, there was a demonstration at the Capitol in DC. Twenty thousand plus pairs of shoes were displayed state by state representing the people killed the previous year by handguns. This was the year after a Japanese high school foreign exchange student had been killed by a handgun while trick or treating with friends on Halloween night. His parents had come for the demonstration and so the shoes of those killed by handguns in Japan the previous year were also displayed. There were fifteen pairs of shoes.
The third lesson is that we must address the roots of this violence in the US. It is my conviction that our societal and domestic violence is closely tied to US international war-making violence.
I now want to turn to the conflicts in Africa.
Let me begin by giving you a one paragraph history lesson. During the genocide in Rwanda, the hate radio station told people to throw the bodies of the Tutsi into the river so that they would go back to Ethiopia. As a result where the Kagera River enters Lake Victoria, the Tanzanians pulled out over 20,000 bodies. They were afraid that the dead bodies would poison the whole lake. Everyone in Rwanda and Burundi speaks the same language, has the same culture, lives next to each other, and sometimes intermarry. The Belgian colonial rulers needed a divide and conquer strategy so they codified the existing groups—Tutsi were supposed to be tall, thin cattle herders who came from Ethiopia while the Hutu were the shorter, stocky farmers. Why is there this connection to Ethiopia? According to early twentieth century race theory—remember Joy’s comments on her research in the library in Kenya--, the Ethiopians were the southern most branch of the white race. Consequently if the Tutsi were from Ethiopia, they would be the ruling class over the Hutu. The Belgians gave the Tutsi all the benefits—education, jobs, government positions, and required them to rule over their Hutu neighbors. The Hutu were into forced labor gangs, controlled by the Tutsi with whips. This is how the many roads in these mountainous countries were built. A few generations of this type of overt discrimination and favoritism made these two groups bitter antagonists.
How were the Quakers in Burundi affected the conflict which began in 1993? How were the Rwanda Quakers affected by the 1994 Genocide and its aftermath? As I give you some quick biographies of Friends in Burundi and Rwanda, do not dwell too much on their ethnicity, but look at them all as human beings.
Because his story illustrates the ambiguities of the Tutsi-Hutu divide, I’ll start with Adrien Niyongabo. He was born in Bujumbura and at age seven his father left his mother and went up-country. His mother was a Tutsi so Adrien grew up thinking he was a Tutsi. As a teenager—like teenagers everywhere--he decided to seek his roots. He went up-country and found his father. Lo and behold, his father was a Hutu. No one can be mixed—one takes the ethnicity of the father. So Adrien became a Hutu. Here is his story in his own words:
In October 1993, the death of the first Hutu elected president gave rise to a new round of massacres between Hutu and Tutsi. The night of the 23rd, the governmental military attacked my suburb. The Hutu were forced to leave the area to hide themselves. As many others did, I followed the queue toward the hills surrounding Bujumbura. Unfortunately, after just one mile, I was stopped by two men with guns;