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By Nyana Kakoma | July 29th, 2015



Had you been there!

Had you been there in Kigali

When death anchored?

When the nation turned into a mortuary?

Kagera was the conveyor belt

Victoria, the thankless mass grave.


For Kigali, the sun stood still

As men sized their hatred for each other

Guns coughed and brought

A great many thousands onto their knees.

As the tribal instinct fed its fury

Into the hearts of men.


Bullet riddled,

Bodies lay covered in blankets of green flies

Limbless bodies danced in the conveyor belt

On their way to the open liquid grave

As death patronised and patrolled Kigali.

Defined Holy Sanctuaries were defiled

Pagans clutched on stolen rosaries

As Christians forgot to pray

But loved to hate death.


The experiment in human suffering

Was a success in Kigali

Artillery fire rocked the landscape

Echoed and re-echoed

Reverberated and re-reverberated

In Kigali: When death charged.


When I looked across the plains

Down the ocean of life,

I saw Kigali

Drifting like a salvo –shattered boat

Surrounded by ripples of death.


Had you been there in Kigali:

When the tribal instinct

Laid bare, the nakedness of annihilation

In what the world knows today:

Tremours in Kigali.

Richard Otwao is a teacher  at Mt St Mary’s College, Namagunga where he is the Head of Department- English Language and Literature in English, Patron of the Writers’ Club, Cultural Heritage Club, Schools Water and Sanitation Club (SWAS TEENS), Coordinator for Associated Schools Project Network (UNESCO)  and Chief of Security.


Otwao is one of the Ugandan poets shortlisted for the 2015 BN Poetry Award. The winner will be revealed during the Babishai Poetry Festival, 26-28th August at the Uganda Museum

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