Travel Blog By Danielle Skinner and Hadley White
(Note: Danielle and Hadley are blogging from northern Tanzania while caught in worldwide flight delays. Yesterday they visited the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda)
After a busy couple of days, and then waking up to a downpour of rain, we decided to stay in Arusha on Thursday and see what activities we could do indoors. April is the rainy season in Tanzania–we have been pretty lucky with the weather though. It rains a little each morning, but by afternoon it usually clears up and the strong sun comes out. We’ve repeatedly noted how beautiful the clouds are here, especially contrasted with the green and brown earth when you get outside of the city.
After enjoying sandwiches and fresh squeezed mango juice at the Africafe (a popular coffee shop/restaurant in downtown Arusha), we headed over to the Arusha International Conference Center (AICC), where we were all of last week for the 2010 International Military HIV/AIDS Conference. This time, we wanted to see if we could drop in for an open session of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, which is being held there. This international court was established in 1994 by the United Nations Security Council to prosecute people responsible for genocide and other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in Rwanda in 1994. The tribunal has been located in Arusha since 1995.
We tried to see a trial at the AICC earlier in the week, but were asked to leave when a protected witness did not feel comfortable speaking in a public session. This time, we attended a trial of three detainees who were former executive leaders of the Mouvement Republicain pour la Demoncratie et le Developpment (MRND). They are accused of joining with other extremist groups within the military, MRND, and “Hutu Power’ parties to seize control of the government following the assassination of President Habyarimana and creating a corps of militia that would respond to their orders to attack and destroy the Tutsi population.
We watched the session behind a glass wall, and headphones were provided to us for translations, as the trial is conducted simultaneously in English, French, and Kinyarwanda. It was very interesting to see how the trials were run and to hear the witnesses speak. One of the defendants’ witnesses was Ferdinand Nahimana who was sentenced to 30 years for publishing articles and ordering broadcasts for Radio Rwanda encouraging people to rise up against the Tutsis. We could immediately tell he was well-spoken and extremely good at evading
the prosecutor’s questions. The prosecutor even described him as “a man of words, who manipulates words to fit the situation.”
Nahimana was questioned for most of the session, by both the prosecutor and the defendant. What struck us the most was the fact that this particular trial had been going on since 2005, still without a resolution. Incredible.
So now that Friday is here (Hadley’s birthday!), we are getting ready to leave Tanzania with bittersweet feelings. Our flight is scheduled to depart at 9:30pm tonight, so feel free to send good vibes our way. We are looking forward to getting back to Stuttgart, as well as discovering clean clothes again, but we are also sad to leave Arusha, where we are starting to feel like we have become permanent residents here. We’ve loved learning all that we have about this city and Tanzanian culture. At dinner last night we reflected on everything we did over the past two weeks, including: learning about military HIV/AIDS issues at the health conference last week; visiting a busy HIV/AIDS voluntary testing and counseling center in Arusha; seeing almost 30 animals including giraffes, lions, elephants, and zebras on a weekend safari; visiting local markets; meeting with and learning about the Maasai people; becoming the proud owners of custom-made tire shoes; hiking around the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro; and engaging with many wonderful people here, not only from Tanzania, but from all over the world. It’s absolutely exceeded our expectations!
We hope we have the opportunity to return to Tanzania again someday, and next time we’ll be prepared with our gear so we can climb Kilimanjaro!
See Part 1 at Stranded in Africa – Opportunity to Explore
See Part 2 at Stranded in Africa Part 2 – The Road to Kilimanjaro
See Photos at Stranded in Africa
Danielle Skinner works for the U.S. Africa Command Public Affairs Office. Hadley White works for U.S. AFRICOM’s Outreach Directorate.