I CALLED OUT FOR THE MOUNTAINS, I HEARD THEM DRUMMING
I CALLED OUT FOR THE MOUNTAINS, I HEARD THEM DRUMMING
THE CONNECTION BETWEEN NATURE AND ONE'S IDENTITY AS WELL AS THE IDEA OF LANDSCAPE AS A COMPONENT OF NATIONAL BELONGING IS A SUBJECT THAT EVERYONE HAS A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH. THE SERIES APPROACHES THESE THEMES IN THE CONTEXT OF POLITICAL DISPLACEMENT
THE SERIES TELLS ABOUT RWANDAN REFUGEES WHO HAVE ESCAPES TO EUROPE AND ABOUT THEIR MEMORIES OF THEIR ORIGINAL HOMELAND. IT PORTRAYS RWANDANS IN SEVERAL EUROPEAN COUNTRIES AND THE LANDSCAPES OF THEIR MEMORIES IN RWANDA. THE PORTRAITS, LANDSCAPES, AND INTERVIEWS FORM A COHESIVE ENTITY THAT CONSIDERS THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN HOMELAND, LANDSCAPE, AND IDENTITY WHILE RECOGNISING THE SUBJECTIVITY OF MEMORIES
AT THE SAME TIME THE COMPLICATED HISTORY OF RWANDA AND THE RECENT HUMAN RIGHT SITUATION IS REFLECTED IN THE PERSONAL HISTORIES OF THESE PEOPLE. THEY LOST THEIR ORIGINAL HOMELAND BUT FINALLY THEY FOUND NEW HOME COUNTRIES IN EUROPE. IN THE END THE MAIN QUESTION OF THE SERIES IS, WHETHER HOME IS JUST A MENTAL IMAGE FOR US ALL?
I was born in Kigali, in the capital of Rwanda. There’s not that much to describe. I remember the mountains but I don’t know how they are called. I remember well the place in the north where my mother was born. We used to go there when I was a child. I remember volcanos, lakes and women working on the fields. I can’t say that my reasons to leave Rwanda were political. In the war a lot of people died in a short time, a lot of people I knew. After the war I thought, I can’t live in that country anymore. It was my wish to leave the country, but I had to wait until it was possible. It was easy to make the decision to leave the country, but it wasn’t simple. I needed an invitation. It was also very expensive for a person who lived there. But I had lot of relatives here and it was possible but it wasn’t simple. But easier than one would think. No one wanted to stay in the country after the war. Earlier when I was new here I was more homesick. Now I feel myself like home here. But earlier I had lot of problems, integration problems, the language and other problems. At the beginning I said “I won’t make it.” I remembered my home country and sometimes I wanted to go back, but it wasn’t possible. It was just too much. I was over challenged. I miss Rwanda when I’m sad, for example. If I notice that people are not satisfied with me I think directly that this is not my home, I’m not at home here. Here you will always feel foreign. Here you are always foreign.
I was born in Rambura in north-Rwanda. There are mountains and hills, rivers and a small lake. I like the landscape there. But how can I describe it? When I talk about the country, or the region where I was born I have people in my memories; people who live there, people who sometimes have problems in their lives. I can still remember a man who came to me and asked me ”Mr. Ndahayo, you have studied, what can you do for us? What can you do for our future, we have no future”. I still have this man and his question in my head. Those are the pictures, and memories that I have from my region. Very bad thing happened to me and my family in 1997, almost all of my family member got killed, but it was seven years after the beginning of the genocide. Lots of people got killed in Ruhengeri and in Buymba because of their ethnicity or their opinions. And twenty-five years later lot of people are still getting killed. It still goes on, and that is actually the reason that kind of made me want to fight against the government. I was against violence, dictatorship, suppression of people. I was doing that in Rwanda.I was fighting against the government first in civil society and later in politics. But the government was torturing and chasing me, and that’s why I had to leave my country. It wasn’t easy to leave the country, and I wouldn’t say that I made a decision. I didn’t have any choice. I just had to do it. If you have to do something, you don’t have a possibility to make a decision. It wasn’t simple, I didn’t know where I can go. The decision was between life and death and I decided for life. My home is the world, my home is where I am. Rwanda is also in this world. As a member of humanity I would hope that I would be able to travel everywhere without limits, but going to Rwanda is not possible at this time. I could go there, but there is a risk that something would happen to me. I could get killed like my family members. The danger is real. What I miss is not Rwanda. Rwanda is there, I have Rwanda. But I miss the freedom there, I miss the rights of all people not only mine, the justice. They are the things that are lacking in Rwanda and that I miss and would like to have there.
I was born in Kigali. The houses were not properly sealed. There was about 100 meters between houses. Our house was in the middle and we had a piece of land outside where we grew strawberries, also corn and grain. But it was only for us to eat, not to export in other countries. I came here to Norway at the start of 2005. Today I can’t say that I miss my homeland. Bad news continues coming from there. That’s why I don’t miss it. Maybe I think about my parent who still live there, but I don’t miss the country. I had to flee from my country because I was going to be a witness in Gacaca-court. I survived the massacre in 1994, but I lost lot of relatives. We had a neighbor who had a lot of money and they wanted the rich to pay a settlement. He was identified innocent but they tried to push through the settlement. Our neighbor was in the town during the genocide, but I wasn’t there. I was in a another town. In the court I tried to raise my hand and say that the neighbor was not in town during the war. After that I got a text message and a man in a police uniform came to our house and said ”You must not support that man, you need the settlement.” I said that I knew the man was innocent and he shouldn’t have to pay. One day after I got a message and they came to me to tell that if I continued like that I would end up in jail. I knew a lot of people who had to go to jail and I also knew that many people lost their lives because they tried to protect the innocent. That’s why I fled from my home country. I thought I would loose my life. I had problems to find someone who could help me to come to Europe, but finally I found someone. It was also hard to find money to pay for traveling to Europe. It was really difficult concerning all the problems I had that time. It was real chaos for me. I feel like Rwandan because I was born there, I speak the language. It is my country and I am Rwandan. Today I am Norwegian citizen but it doesn’t help me to be Norwegian. I am Rwandan.
I was born in Ruhengeri in the North-Rwanda. Back in those days, the region was called Mukingo, but now it is north-province, I assume. Or it’s called Musanze now. The region where I was born is very hilly region with a very beautiful landscape. When you are in my village, you can see the city of Ruhengeri below. It is only few minutes from the Virunga national park. When I think about my home country, I feel a little homesick. But because everything I went through there, it is a sad feeling sometimes. I had to leave Rwanda because at that time there was a civil war in Rwanda, which was very intensive in my region Ruhengeri. The Rwandan army was fighting against the rebels. As I said, I lived next to national park and the rebels were hiding there. People suffered. I had to decide between joining the rebels or to work with the government army. In those days, young men had to choose on which side they stood. For me it was clear that I didn’t want to be involved in any of it, and I decided to leave my country. The decision was really clear for me. It was easy. For us in Ruhegeri in the time between 1996 and 1997 it was very hard to have a normal life. People got killed every day in the fightings between the rebels and the army. I made my decision quickly. I just had to go away. A lot would have to happen in Rwanda that I could go back. I have experienced a lot. I have seen a lot. I have seen people dying next to me, on my way in Kongo, in Uganda and in Kenya. If that all could be settled and I could have a secure feeling that nothing would happen to me, I would go back to Rwanda. But as I understand the situation, it will take years and years. I hope only peace for Rwanda. If there was suddenly a possibility to go back to Rwanda, it would be like a very positive surprise, but at the same time I would have a mixed feeling. I have lived here for so long. I have my friends here; I have something to do here; I have my life here. It would be a 360 degree turn. I would be very happy to have peace in my country again, but I would have mixed feeling if I had to leave everything that I have achieved here, but still I would be very happy.
I was born in Gisenyi. It is a province in north- west Rwanda. There are a lot of mountains in Gisenyi like everywhere in Rwanda. I was born right next to the Kivu-lake. It is a very beautiful part of Gisenyi. I like it very much. Nowadays when I think about my home country I have a sad feeling. I miss those times. It belongs to me, to walk those small paths, to swim in the Kivu-lake. I miss it very much. It wasn’t easy to leave my home county, After all those years of living there. I had started something there. Then suddenly I had to leave it all behind. No one can do something like that voluntarily without any idea of when he will come back. When I came to Europe I had two different feelings. First, I was released. Finally I was able to sleep and breath, to do what I wanted. On the other side I was sad. I was new and I couldn’t help myself. I always needed someone with me for translation. And I had these thoughts, “I’m so far away from my home, from my friends, par- ents and siblings.” It was a mixed feeling— released, but on the other side sad. It is a sad feeling not to be able to go to Rwanda. I am here and I have my rights and I can live like I want, but still it is written on my passport, I can go everywhere but not to my home country. The political situation in Rwanda is very sad. If I think about our politicians and what has happened. It is very sad because nothing has changed, out history hasn’t changed. Normally if someone has experienced something bad, he can plan his future better. But in Rwanda that has brought nothing. Everything is getting worse and worse. What I wish for Rwanda is not that much, only peace.
I was born in Rwanda in Butare, a city in the south Rwanda. I left Rwanda 1995 because of the war. We didn’t feel safe there anymore. My mother had died in prison. My father was also in prison even though he wasn’t in the country during the war. He left Rwanda before April, 1994 and came back in July, 1994, but after that he was taken to prison. We couldn’t go to school anymore. We didn’t have any qualifications and that made it difficult to work. We were trying to work but it was too difficult. We decided to leave Rwanda to see if we could live better somewhere else. It was not easy to go because we were going into the unknown. It was not easy to leave Rwanda. But at the same time we were released to be able to go. We said, it would be too difficult to have a future in our country. So I left Rwanda with my two little sisters. We crossed over the big mountains to Kenya, and from Kenya we went directly to Kamerun where I lived for four years. Even though I have lived in Belgium since 1999, I feel more Rwandan than Belgian. When I’m asked where I come from I say from Rwanda, and they answer ”I thought you are a Belgian!?”. I say I am a Belgian, but first of all Rwandan. I still feel more like a Rwandan even though I was accepted to Belgium. I was able to develop and find my place here, to study and to start a family here. I still feel Rwandan. It has been 19 years since I left Rwanda, and of course I miss it a lot because it is my home country. Unfortunately I can’t go there at the moment because I wouldn’t feel safe there. I miss Rwanda a lot. I hope definitely that peace will come to Rwanda, that people are not killed because of one yes or no, that no one would disappear anymore and that people would become conscious that peace is better than war.
I was born in Rwanda, in the south in province of Butare. Rwanda is located between Kongo, Burundi, Tanzania and Uganda. I descripe a place close to Butare. During the genocide lot of people went there to seak protection. They got killed inside the church. I don’t want to talk about the reasons why I had to leave my home country. It is too hard for me. For my home country I wish, freedom,justice, true democracy and that the people would be able to express their opinions. It would be good to be able to go back to my home country. I would meet again with my family and we could experience our culture together. It would be good for us to be able to go back home in security and in peace, where we can feel our own home country.
I was born in Rwanda in the North province, the place is called Gicumbi. I can say it is a very nice place with hills, and forests and with good plantations and good views. The thing that I always have in my memory is to see the volcano after the rain. I left my country because of the political problems. As soon as I wasn’t feeling well, I didn’t have a peace of mind. My view wasn’t what others wanted it to be and then I decided to go away. The different view that I had was about the genocide. They say it was a tutsi genocide, but in my family I lost many people and I don’t have the right to remember them as human beings that we lost. They didn’t accept me saying that I lost my people and that they were killed by the peo- ple in power, I was speechless but I didn’t want to close my mouth. Then I decided to go. It wasn’t easy to go and to know that you will go far away from your parent and their love and to start a new life somewhere else. It wasn’t easy. Yes it was really hard to start a new life here. As I remember when I came here, it was the start of summer; the day was just too long. I checked the time and at nine p.m. the sun was still shining and I couldn’t understand that, but what really chocked me here was the discrimination. It is true that I feel foreign here, but it’s not from me. When I feel foreign it is because of the environment, because of the people. When you go to supermarket and they look at you because you are black and when the other kids are looking to my kid and saying, ”Look at that kid,” then I feel strange. I feel strange when I’m searching for a job and they ask me if I really can do something. In one place they asked me to open a computer. They thought that I couldn’t open a computer. In that situation I felt strange, but I didn’t feel strange when I was writing that application letter. It is painful to know that I cannot go home. When I think about it I feel homesick. Sometimes I might not think about that for some weeks and its okay. It is not a depression, but it is kind of a depression to be homesick. For the future of Rwanda, I hope it will be a nice country again, as it was before. And I wish that Rwanda could be the paradise it once was. As the Rwandans used to say, it is a paradise.
I was born in Rwanda, in Gisenyi. The district is called Rubavu and there’s a city below and a mountain also called Rubavu. There is a very beautiful lake called Kivu. The Government always supports only the Tutsis. They don’t treat Hutus like human beings. After my graduation, the government decided to stop supporting the students but they still supported the Tutsi students. We didn’t want that and we tried to get support too. Some of my friends got imprisoned. I managed to escape from Rwanda. My life here in Europe is like a new start. Everything was new. You have to go further with self-confidence but sometimes it is hard because you feel like being in the air.You don’t have any roots here. But I like that the government here supports everyone including foreigners. I like it here. Here I have hope for my life and future, to find a good path. I have hope.
I was born in Rwanda near a lake. It was a beautiful town. I think Rwanda was a good country and I miss it a lot. Even though I miss it I can still feel the bad situation there. I have a sister there, two of my brothers had to go to jail because of the genocide, my parents too. Our possessions have been taken away. That’s why I can still feel the bad situation in Rwanda. I had to leave Rwanda because of the genocide. Everybody were just killing each other. I just hoped that I would survive, and that’s why I had to go away, because of the war. Yes, I miss Rwanda. It is my home country and I wonder how is the situation there. But when I hear about the situation I don’t want to go there, but I miss it.
I was born in Byumba, in northern Rwanda. It is a hilly city on a top of a mountain, around 60 kilometers from the capital Kigali. It is a small city, but a very beautiful city. I left Rwanda because I didn’t feel comfortable anymore. I was living in frustration. I didn’t feel being safe because of lack of freedom of speech and freedom of thinking.That is something that is missing in Rwanda. I felt my life could be in danger if I stayed, so I decided to go. I don’t only feel foreign here in Germany, I am foreign. As a person of color, even if I were German people would see my color before asking me if I am a real German. At the university I am seen as a student. Where I am living I am an african. They call me that. Even if they don’t know if I come from Africa they say ”you black”. Here I can take on many identities: black, african, student, Rwandan. I am foreigner here, but I feel like home even if I am foreigner. It is possible for me to go to Rwanda. I can go there any time, but I don’t know if it would be safe for me because I am a person who wants to express my point of view, my opinion. If I criticise the government it could be bad for me and I know my character, how I have grown up here now, I feel free. I want that freedom for everyone, to express what is going on, what is bad, what is not bad. But I know it is not the time go back now. The freedom is still missing and I wont feel I’m protected. I might be the target of the government. I can go there to face those problems that other people are facing all the time like jail. But I am not ready now. Going there would be suicidal. But someday I might go back again. That feeling would be more than better, I don’t know how to express myself. I know when I go home from school each day to my apartment here in Hannover, I feel I am at home. I feel comfortable. I imagine when I go back to Rwanda where I will meet my parents and my siblings, where I will eat the food I like, where I will enjoy the sun, the tropical climate, I think I will feel comfortable, but I don’t know how I will feel. It will be a very good feeling, a joyful feeling. And I dream about that moment all the time. It will be a good feeling, a very good feeling.