Had you been there!
Had you been there in Kigali
When death anchored?
When the nation turned into a mortuary?
Kagera was the conveyor belt
Victoria, the thankless mass grave.
For Kigali, the sun stood still
As men sized their hatred for each other
Guns coughed and brought
A great many thousands onto their knees.
As the tribal instinct fed its fury
Into the hearts of men.
Bodies lay covered in blankets of green flies
Limbless bodies danced in the conveyor belt
On their way to the open liquid grave
As death patronised and patrolled Kigali.
Defined Holy Sanctuaries were defiled
Pagans clutched on stolen rosaries
As Christians forgot to pray
But loved to hate death.
The experiment in human suffering
Was a success in Kigali
Artillery fire rocked the landscape
Echoed and re-echoed
Reverberated and re-reverberated
In Kigali: When death charged.
When I looked across the plains
Down the ocean of life,
I saw Kigali
Drifting like a salvo –shattered boat
Surrounded by ripples of death.
Had you been there in Kigali:
When the tribal instinct
Laid bare, the nakedness of annihilation
In what the world knows today:
Tremours in Kigali.
Richard Otwao is a teacher at Mt St Mary’s College, Namagunga where he is the Head of Department- English Language and Literature in English, Patron of the Writers’ Club, Cultural Heritage Club, Schools Water and Sanitation Club (SWAS TEENS), Coordinator for Associated Schools Project Network (UNESCO) and Chief of Security.
Otwao is one of the Ugandan poets shortlisted for the 2015 BN Poetry Award. The winner will be revealed during the Babishai Poetry Festival, 26-28th August at the Uganda Museum