Over a Thousand Hills... Lambs to the Slaughter?

Little Jeanne d'Arc Umubyeyi lived happily with her parents, brother and little sister.  Her mother was a teacher and her father a Professor and they lived in a comfortable house with a beautiful tiled roof.  She happily fought with her little sister and teased her brother.  She visited her grandmother over school holidays and lived her life like any other little girl of eight, anywhere in the world... carefree and secure!

Then came that horrible day in April 1994, when her life was irrevocably changed forever.  In a few short days, every thing, and every one who made up her world, were taken from her... simply because she was a Tutsi and the Hutus hated them.

Jeanne lost her whole family.  She watched her mother being tortured to death, she saw her brother being hacked to death, she heard how her father was driven along for days while his capturers humiliated him and she never again heard from, or what happened to her little sister.  She was left alone in a hostile world.

I have recently read the book "Over a Thousand Hills I Walk with You" by Hanna Jansen.  It is Jeanne's story penned down by her adoptive mother.  It is an excellent, but very disturbing book.  However, I thing it should be read by as many people as possible because in essence it is a book about Africa... and about the people of Africa.

One thing that I do not understand is the fact that the Tutsis did nothing to defend themselves.  I am not talking about the rebels that were already involved in the fighting, I am specifically speaking about the normal citizen who were staring death in the face and yet, did not lift a finger to defend himself.  I am sure that some of the victims were killed by bullets, yet the description in the book mainly involves, hoes, machetes and beatings.  Did the Tutsis not have these things?  They gathered in large numbers on more than one occassion, yet at no time in the book is there any indication that they planned a defence.  I do not understand this, as surely it is a basic human trait to defend yourself.  Why did they not... or is it just not mentioned in this particular book?


DUTA said...

You ask a very good question: did the Tutzis do nothing to defend themselves?

Maybe they were taken by complete surprise, maybe they are of an extreme passive nature. I wish to believe that the men among them did try to defend themselves and their family, but were unsuccessful.

Leilani Tresise said...

Fear. Here in Hawaii we are taught from birth about the dangers of the shark. We learn to fear sharks, some hawaiians dont go in the water because of that fear.

I wonder if Tutzis were taught to fear rather than fight?

Gaelyn said...

This sounds like a very sad story. Some people are pasifists.

Jo said...

I have heard that same story over and over about the fighting between the Tutsis and the Hutus. It is heartbreaking.

What I don't understand is why the world stood by and let it happen.

It was terrible, wasn't it? It sounds like an interesting book, by the way.

A human kind of human said...

Thanks Everyone for your comments. It is a very interesting book, but as I've said, very disturbing. It goes beyond the imagination that humans can treat fellow humans in such a way, yet we have too often seen this happening in Africa specifically. As for the world allowing it, I get the impression that even the UN is big on setting up a show of being involved, but once the real trouble starts, they pack up and go, as happened in Rwanda. I do wish the world would wake up and understand the very basic level of developement in many African countries. You usually have a handful of citizens who are educated and prosperous (those seen on TV and in the printed media) and the vast majority are still living the same life they lived hundreds of years ago and they call it culture or tradition. We often still see evidence of this here in SA, even in the little town where we live.

Nezzy (Cow Patty Surprise) said...

What an interesting thought to ponder? Why in the mist of attack wouldn't ya pull out all the stops and fight back? Just seems like human nature to this Ozarks farm chick. Fear can overcome all other defenses.

As we say here in the hills and hollers of the Missouri Ponderosa, "ya'll have a wonderfully blessed day!!!"

A human kind of human said...

I agree Nezzy. Survival instinct should kick in, shouldn't it?

Susan Ellis said...

We hear about the incredible violence enacted in different parts of the world, tribe against tribe, man against man...and it is horrifying to think about. Rwanda is an excellent example and perhaps because it is so terrible it makes it easier to NOT think about than to think about it and choose to get involved. And that is a problem too.