During times of violence and chaos, it is those victims remaining hopeful that influence and impact later generations. Maintaining a sense of optimism is difficult when it is inevitable that “Past events cannot be erased: one cannot undo what has been done, nor prevent what has happened.” (Bert, Parmentier, Haers, and Segaert 45). The mass-murder in Rwanda that took nearly one million lives is proof of this unnerving fact of the mind’s inability to forget traumatic events. In her poem “Mothers Sing a Lullaby”, Dr. Susan Kiguli does not suggest erasing the damaging past, but rather encourages a resurrection of the collective victims in a way that will defy pain and suffering. The poem itself serves two purposes: to depict a scene that highlights the sheer terror of one-hundred dreadful and violent days and also to serve as a literary platform of empowerment for mothers in their post-genocide lives.
Kiguli offers no historical context, but the reader must be aware of it in order to discren the poem’s underlying message. Beginning in the 1990’s, civil war broke out between the Hutu-dominated government and the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), which was represented by men of the Tutsi minority. Tensions between the two state-ordained ethnicities was a result of the Hutu tribe’s unfounded fear of an uprising from the elitist Tutsi tribe. On July 6, 1994, President Juvenal Habyarimana of Rwanda was killed in a plane crash, and the Hutus were quick to place full blame on the Tutsis. April 7, 1994 marked the beginning of a one-hundred day slaughter of the Tutsis living in Rwanda by the hands of the Hutu Militia. (UN News Center).
Although the violence was widespread across the nation and affected countless ...
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...ngth confirms their profound courage. The tone never shifts from that of horror and sadness for the very reason why the burden of restoring peace to the nation falls on the shoulders of the mothers. When talking about the atrocity, JeJeannette Ayinkamiya, a seventeen year-old farmer and seamstress from Maranyundo said that “When a genocide has been committed, another one can come…if the root cause is still there and unknown.” (Hatzfield 29, 2006). Kiguli has a political vision that is based upon fundamental morality. Mothers that have withstood gender misrepresentation, motherhood, and violence, deserve immense recognition around the world. Just like the tone of the poem, the mothers themselves are in constant sorrow because of the painful past, but they do not let the agony disrupt their ability to reconstruct their own narratives, and in turn, that of heir nation.
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