This entry, can FOR SURE apply to ANYONE, but it is especially for those adopting from Rwanda!
You MUST READ "Land of a Thousand Hills" by Rosamond Carr. It is the most beautiful picture of Rwanda. So many book written about the country are just about the ugly genocide and this book is SO MUCH MORE! We have to think about Rwanda beyond the genocide because they have come so far and they are so much more than just a country torn apart by murder. This books helps you to see Rwanda as the beautiful country it is! Please read it and make all of your loved ones read it so that they can fall in love with the country of your children, too!
Below is an excerpt from the book:
When Kenneth suggested that we move to Africa, everyone thought we were mad. At that time, however, I would have followed him anywhere. It was the summer of 1949, and it was the beginning of what was to become a lifetime adventure. It is true that I was very much in love with Kenneth, but this is really the story of a love affair between a woman and a country. It took some time for this love affair to take hold. But take hold it did, and it has been going on now for almost fifty years.
My name is Rosamond Halsey Carr and my home is in Rwanda, a small country in east central Africa. Rwanda is called "Land of a Thousand Hills" (or in French, "Mille Collines"), and much like the pattern of my life, its landscape is a tapestry of a thousand peaks and valleys that fill the horizon and beyond. The name is derived from the Virunga Mountains, a volcanic chain which forms the continental divide between the great Nile and Congo river basins. Rwanda lies just south of the Equator at an elevation of approximately five thousand feet. My home is a flower plantation called Mugongo, situated high in the foothills of the Virunga volcanoes at an elevation of seventy-eight hundred feet.
Rwanda is bounded on the west by Zaire, on the south by Burundi, on the east by Tanzania, and on the north by Uganda. The Rusizi River empties south from Lake Kivu to form its western boundary with Zaire. The southern region is scattered with numerous lakes and dense forests. To the east, a high plateau declines gently toward the low marshy plains and grassy savannas of the Akagera National Park and Adagera River, which empties in to Lake Victoria and forms its eastern boundary with Tanzania. The northern region is dominated by the lofty peaks of the Virunga volcanoes and encompasses some of the most fertile land in all of Africa.
Rwanda is one of the most densely populated countries in Africa, with a population of almost eight million people in an area of approximately ten thousand square miles. The capital city is Kigali, and the official languages are Kinyarwanda and French, although Swahili is widely spoken as well. Its fertile mountain slopes and grassy plains are home to three distinct ethnic groups. The Wahutu (Hutu), whose name translates to mean "cultivators," are of Bantu stock and make up approximately eighty-five percent of the population. The Watutsi (Tutsi) are the tribe of the feudal kings of Rwanda and make up less than fifteen percent of the population. They are a tall, nomadic people who are traditionally cattle herders and great warriors. The remaining one or two percent are the Batwa pygmies, who are hunters and potters and purveyors of magic spells. Collectively, they are known as the Banyaranda--the people of Rwanda.
It is generally believed that the Tutsi migrated to this region in the fifteenth century and established dominance over the agriculturalist Hutu by a series of land and cattle contracts. By the seventeenth century they had founded a kingdom encompassing the area surrounding what is now Kigali and the outlying Hutu communities. The Germans claimed Rwanda as part of German East Africa in 1890, but their presence and control were limited. Following World War I, Rwanda--along with neighboring Burundi--was assigned to Belgium as part of the League of Nations mandate (later the United Nations trust territory) of Ruanda-Urundi. The Belgians ruled indirectly through the Tutsi monarchy, but encouraged the rise of the Hutu lower classes. In 1959, war erupted between the Tutsi and the Hutu. As a result, the mwami (king) Kigeri V was deposed and forced into exile, and vast numbers of Tutsi fled to neighboring countries, setting the stage for much enmity and bloodshed in the decades to follow. Rwanda was declared a republic in January 1961 and became an independent country on July 1, 1962.
Rwanda in 1949 was a land of enchantment--a wilderness where people and animals lived in harmony untouched by the outside world. Shepherds led their cattle to drink at the lakes and pools until evening, when elephants began to migrate toward the watering holes to drink and bathe. Time was told by the sun, and the moon was the calendar. A house could be built in a few days, made from trees and bamboo gathered from the forests and roofed with grass. Men prayed that the weather would be favorable for their crops, young boys dreamed of owning large herds of cattle, and little girls cradled and sang to their dolls made of spiky flowers called red-hot pokers, imagining a baby of their own. The markets were social gathering places and trading centers where a finely woven grass mat was exchanged for forty pounds of potatoes or a basket for storing grain.
Many changes have taken place since I arrived here almost a half century ago. I have witnessed the decline and fall of colonialism in Africa and the emergence of the new and struggling African states. I have survived civil wars, revolutions, and one of the greatest human tragedies of our time, the genocide of 1994. More than once my home has been occupied by soldiers--some of them welcome, others not. The names of towns and countries have changed, and friends have come and gone. I have experienced great happiness and unbearable heartache. I have known extraordinary people and been witness to extraordinary events. I have sailed up the Congo River and camped in pygmy villages. I have attended the coronation of a Tutsi king and been a guest at the Presidential Palace. Elephants have roamed across my land, and I have communed with the mountain gorillas. I have seen the end of an era and the beginning of a new Rwanda, a country struggling to reconcile its traditional way of life with a new Africa at the dawn of the twenty-first century.
Yet, with all the changes, much has remained the same. Rwanda is still the most beautiful place on earth. My vine-covered cottage still sits on a rise surrounded by English gardens and towering hedges of hydrangeas. I still have no electricity or telephone. Food is prepared on a wood-burning stove, and the only light in the evenings is candlelight and kerosene lanterns. The chairs are African-made, laced with cowhide strips, and straw mats and goatskin rugs cover the floors. The workers still come each day to work in the fields, and every morning at my back door mothers line up with their sick babies waiting for me to treat their fevers and runny noses. The rocky road to Mugongo has, if anything, become more difficult to travel. But tea is still served at four, and every evening the crested cranes come to roost in the tufted leaves of the dracaena trees. Mikeno and Karisimbi rise majestically out of the mist to cast shadows across my land, and Nyiragongo, an active volcano, lights up the sky to the west each evening. On a clear day, I can still see Lake Kivu in the distance. And there are still more stars in the African night sky than in any other place on earth.
Today, Mugongo is filled with the sound of children's laughter and singing. This country that I love has given me much. Rwanda is my home, and it is here that I intend to spend the rest of my days. Its beauty is my inspiration. Its struggles have been my struggles. Its grief has been my deepest sorrow. Its people are my strength, and its children are my greatest joy.