Then

The first funeral I ever attended was my uncle’s

I watched my mother and my aunt cry

Hundreds of others were mourning

My father spoke and I kept hearing the words “yari Intwari”

Over and over again.

It meant he was a hero.

At only five years old I learned two things

That the international commission hasn’t been able to

It was reported that 166 innocents died

Lesson no. 1

The aftermath

Fathers would have to deal with guilt

For not protecting their families against those rebels

Mothers would break into pieces

For birthing sons and daughters in such a cruel world.

Brothers and sisters would have to learn how to live again

Only this time around

More silence and less laughter

More drug addicts and alcoholics

More trauma and self-harm

More hours sitting

In front of the psychologist

Fighting to explain the loss

You see when death comes

Its victims aren’t always buried

Lesson no.2

Innocents are usually not guilty of a crime

Us being from Mulenge is a crime according to some

The fact that our men stand tall

That our nose isn’t wide enough

That the language we inherited

Reminds them of their enemies

That our existence is threatening

That is our crime.

And if it is a crime at all

Then we are guilty.

When someone dies their body decomposes

Years later there are only skeletons left

Yet a tree grew through concrete

Right where our loved ones were buried

And if you don’t seem to understand where I am going with this

Incorrect is 166 innocents died

Correct is 166 heroes were murdered but their legacy will live on forever

I mean to say we’ve been using this statistic for a long time

I mean to say we want justice for our intwaris

I mean to say we won’t stop fighting for it

For our loved ones cannot be contained in numbers

They lived, They loved, They were here

And if that isn’t enough to convict the monsters

Who disguised themselves as saints

And slaughtered our Intwaris

Then perhaps the international justice department

Must come upfront and say

There’s no justice available for people like us

Who have quite a history with not fitting in

But rather standing out and never apologizing

For existing

-Marianne Murekatete

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