Most of us didn't even know where Rwanda was when we heard that Australia was sending over a some military personnel as part of the UN post-genocide push in mid 1994. And its not really surprising. Rwanda is a tiny land locked country in central Africa bordered by Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (or Zaire as it was known back then). If we had heard of it, it was from collecting those bags full of colourful and exotic stamps when we were kids, or from watching Sigourney Weaver in "Gorillas in the Mist".
We soon learnt a whole lot more about it. We learnt that it was a tiny country about 2/3 the size of Tasmania but with a population of 8 million people. We learnt that there were three distinct ethnic groups - Tutsi, Hutu and Twa - but that sometimes it was hard to tell the former two apart. We learnt that result of the gift of Catholism from its European Colonisers meant that the average woman had over 6 children but that a large percentage of these kids died before the age of 5 even before there was a genocide. We learnt that it was an incredibly fertile country that should have been prosperous were it not for the fact that its population was just too big.
To learn more about the country of Rwanda, its people, culture, and history, check out other links or visit the genocide page.
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