Today we visited Nsinda Prison (population 8000) to interview those convicted of genocide. As we pulled up to the prison we met a large group of prisoners returning to the prison from the fields. They had only 1 guard with a machine gun and another with a stick. Many prisoners carried produce. Again, it felt like we were transported back a century. It was a dusty ancient looking place with shirtless male prisoners carrying huge logs on their shoulders (for firewood for their cooking fires). We were ushered to a bare cinder block room with a log and metal roof. 4 stools were brought for us. One of us noticed several wasp hives attached to the roof. In walked 19 prisoners all accused and convicted of mass murder. Quite a few were women and two had babies. One baby nursed throughout the session. The one guard stood outside the room with the door open to the out of doors. We asked them about their experiences. These individuals denied much wrongdoing, felt their former government led them astray, confessed, asked for forgiveness but felt they were denied it. They espoused genocidal ideology in that Tutsis were accused of killing the president and succeeding in forcing out the Hutus in the country.
Oh, as we entered the prison, we were greeted with “Nothing but the Blood” in native tongue over a loudspeaker. Apparently, there was a church service going on. What a contrast between the song (which recognizes guilt and the need for cleansing and the perceived innocence of the genocidaires (“I only mutilated dead bodies.”)