My apologies for the lack of an update; I have been dealing with some technical difficulties lately…
The war drags on. I will post a few relevant articles if you would like to read about it from other perspectives than mine, hear about the resilience of its journalists, artists and everyday people from those who are actually there.
The other night I couldn’t sleep. I kept waking up, over and over, thinking I heard things like gunfire and falling rocks. When I woke up I realized that that must be what every night is like for my friends in Bujumbura, for Félicie, for my radio colleagues, for Maman Pierre and Pierre’s baby brother in that dark, echoing house at the centre of the storm.
I realized that it had been several days since I had heard from anybody. As if on cue, several of my ex-colleagues and students wrote to me almost simultaneously.
“Qu’est-ce que tu deviens?” I asked Dieudonné.
A common French way of asking for an update from someone you haven’t seen in a while. “What are you becoming?”
“Nothing!!! A refugee!!! Just looking for something to do!!”
His job opportunity in Denmark has disappeared into thin air thanks to this war. He’s turning around in circles in Kigali. Loud Michel is turning around in circles in Kampala. Emilie is still in the camp; I need to call the US embassy in Kigali and the INS about her case. Pierre is writing about the life of a refugee for some kind of French-language samizdat publication and earning a little money; when he gets an internet connection he wants to send me a piece to see if I can get it published in another outlet. I could not be more impressed with him; since his feet have been held to the fire, the quiet, anxious mama’s boy has turned into an adept seizer of opportunities. I’m so proud of him, and I feel like a bit of a fool for underestimating him.
Any one of these people would do very well in my masters’ program. They would graduate with distinction. They could become anything. Pierre was even accepted, shortly before we met, but got his visa refused because one immigration officer had doubts about his uncle’s ability to provide for him. The visa office. The coup attempt. The war. Decisions by strangers buffet these kids’ lives in all directions.
Many of my journalist friends and contacts, including my sweet former editor-in-chief Robert and Hakiza the sports reporter, are in Kigali. My friend Didier is in Kigali, apparently on some sort of hit list although when the protests started he was working at a fast-food restaurant in Quebec City. Those who are still in Bujumbura are decreasing in number from week to week.
When Jean-Claude, may he rest in peace, was alive, he said Bujumbura was where journalists and poets from Rwanda came for a bit of fresh air. That was less than three years ago. It seems like another lifetime.
The crowd funding campaign for Isanganiro is at nearly $600 ! Please click and help if you can!