The genocide of the 1990s in Rwanda resulted in vast refugee camps being established in Tanzania.  At the time of the millennium a few were still crossing the border to seek sanctuary in the camps.  This poem relates to one woman’s trek along with her children and is as seen.




From the shade of a jacaranda tree

beside that dusty road;

I saw a woman come my way,

torn from her abode;

A child at heel behind her

in the noonday heat;

Bundles carried on the head,

no shoes upon their feet.


A look of fear was in their eye,

when they saw me there;

A sadness rose within my throat,

to speak I did not dare.

As they veered away from me,

I saw the woman stumble;

She fought to regain her gait

a figure thin and humble.


The boy followed in her wake,

large eyes unblinking;

I saw the babe upon her back,

survival in her thinking.

Trudging onward to the camp,

with bundles on the head;

Overcoming human torment,

their man already dead.


Monty Alexander 14.7.2000

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