Thursday, February 09, 2006

Rwandan Thoughts on Hotel Rwanda

I've had this conversation numerous times, and never at my suggestion. Rwandans are aware of the new attention it has been getting as a result of the movie, and talk about it surprisingly frequently. They think that Don Cheadle decided to take the role because of the money, that the movie doesn't show what actually happened (and I must concede that with the exception of the part where they drove over bodies in Gitarama, it is pretty light on violence), it doesn't show Rwanda (the film was shot in South Africa), it doesn't even feature Rwandans (the characters were played by South Africans who are apparently the cast of a famous S. African TV show), and it is the story of a Hutu who saves some Tutsis (many, it appears, would prefer a story featuring a Tutsi).

Instead, without exception, everyone has recommended the HBO flick Sometimes in April, which came out the same year as Hotel Rwanda. I saw it when it was shown for the first time in Washington. It had been seen as such an important film that HBO teamed up with PBS to show it on public television. It's the story of two Hutu brothers, split by Hutu Power politics. One of the brothers was a radio commentator on RTLM, the radio station which broadcast anti-Tutsi messages. The other was a moderate. It's very violent, but, I will grant, is truer to the more general story of the genocide than Hotel Rwanda. (Plus, apparently it was filmed with Rwandans in Rwanda.) The movie should be in your local video store, if you're interested in seeing it. It's very good.

Most Rwandans have seen both films, because every April, they remember the genocide. For two weeks, TV stations only carry movies and programs on the genocide, because the government fears that if the Rwandan people regard the genocide as history, they will be doomed to repeat it. And many people believe we're in the eye of the storm.

As a post script, if anyone was ever interested in what those kids are singing at the end of Hotel Rwanda (that song with Wyclef Jean), in Kinyarwanda, it means this: "The sun will rise once again over Rwanda."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would agree and disagree with you. People say that Hotel Rwanda really happened and it was a little like the movie, but from all the people I have talked to in my trips to Rwanda they are more grateful for the movie and the exposure to the beautiful country of Rwanda than not. I would 100% agree with that "Sometime in April" is the best movie out there. Also for further studies get "Ghosts of Rwanda" and "Shaking Hands with the Devil" These are two documentaries that will help all understand the plight of these beautiful people

5/30/2006 9:02 AM  
Blogger JAC said...

regarding the line from the wyclef jean song: thanks so much for the translation. could you write out the kinyarwanda of this same line?

8/14/2009 7:24 PM  
Blogger WPMRQYGKVZ said...

Ni ryari izuba rizagaruka hejuru yacu ? When is it that the sun will return above us ? (Literally : is when sun it-will-return above of-us ?) I'm pretty sure I've got that right, but there's another short bit at the end that I'm not sure about.

4/05/2010 1:02 PM  
Blogger Matt Nash said...

I have been living in Kigali, Rwanda for 1 month now and in my conversations with Rwandans, you are right on. Sometime in April is a phenominal movie and the book Left to Tell is a must read for understanding what happened here in Rwanda in 1994. Thank you for your great post and for the help with my Kinyarwanda. If you ever want to meet up in Kigali at Bourbon, let me know.


9/02/2010 11:29 AM  
Anonymous Jenna said...

I dream of going to Rwanda and have delved extensively into it's history. Of course, the first thing you think when Rwanda comes up is the genocide. Truly a horrendous crime against everything not only human, but just everything in general.
I am a high-school student though, but I am trying to understand everything. In class we watched, "Shake Hands with the Devil", which was fantastic. Romeo Dallaire was Canadian and I live in Canada, so it was kind of watched partly due to pride. I also watched, "Shooting Dogs", another fantastic movie, on my own time. Although not quite as graphic, it focuses more on the mental torture of such things while still giving proper insight into the physical horrors. It was filmed in the areas where everything in the film originally occurred and quite a few of the cast and crew were original survivors of the genocide, as it will say at the end of the movie. Really a good watch.

2/05/2011 3:19 AM  
Anonymous mandar said...

All of the films that have been mentioned are very good in their own way. It is important to keep in mind that it's unrealistic to expect one movie have all the components of what really happened. I work very closely with many Rwandese students, and when asked, they all agree that Shooting Dogs was the best and most accurate. After talking with locals in Rwanda and the students, I found out that most Rwandese extremely dislike the portrayal of Hotel Rwanda and Paul Rusesabagina. They DO NOT see him as a hero at all, because supposedly he took money from the people that he allowed to stay in hotel, and if they ran out of money or couldn't afford it, they were cast out into the street with no they are pretty unhappy with the impression that most of the Western world has of Hotel Rwanda. Anyway, I really appreciate your kinyarwanda phrasebook. The students and other Rwandese that I have spoken with and met were very impressed with it as well. Thanks!

4/17/2011 11:04 AM  
Blogger Mbabazi said...

I disagree with Hotel Rwanda it didn't at all show what happened in 1994 at list sometime,s in Apri showed similar to what happened.

10/11/2011 5:32 AM  
Blogger nana said...

I agree with you,sometime in April really tried to bring out a more clearer picture of what happened in Rwanda in 1994 than Hotel Rwanda.I Personally have heard stories from may relatives living in kigali most of whom are genocide survivors,and they say sometime in april is more real!

10/19/2011 8:14 AM  
Anonymous Wally Howe said...

Thank you for the recommendations, Morgan! I think I would watch the two to make some comparisons. But I must say, because of these movies, people all over the world became aware of what had transpired in Rwanda. It is like a sneak peak in history.

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