The Rwanda Genocide began after a surface-to-air missile struck one of the wings of the jet conveying Juvénal Habyarimana, the then Rwanda president. The plane which carried three French crew and nine passengers erupted into flames in mid-air before crashing into the garden of the presidential palace, exploding on impact (coincidence?).
The house and plane crash site located in Kanombe about a mile from the Kigali International Airport’s runway is called the Presidential Palace Museum. I went there to see where it all started and to learn more about the event that spurred the Rwanda Genocide. First off, was the crash site which shows the remains of the presidential jet.
Up next was the remains of a concrete pond that once housed the president’s 300 pound python pet, a pet which doubled as a guard and whose job was to fend off evil spirits, as well as instill fear in any of the president’s evil visitors but whose prowess lacked militant capacity and thus could not stop the missiles which were airbound for its master’s jet?.
I was shown a tennis court, swimming pool, an outdoor bar and other relics which the president had used during his lifetime.
Finally, we moved to the house which housed the remaining possessions of the former president as I was informed that a lot of his personal possessions including his bed were stolen by hoodlums during the Rwanda Genocide. There are sensors at strategic points around the house that were to inform the president of the presence of an intruder. This created the impression in me that the president knew that he was likely to be attacked.
There is a hidden weapons cabinet built into the television cabinet and a sweet escape route which was for escape in the event that he was attacked. The top floor houses a chapel on one side and a room on the other where he practiced witchcraft, ingested magic potions and sacrificed animals with the aid of his witch doctor. Only if he knew that these would not still save him from the impending doom.
It costs $20 or 6,000RWF to access the Presidential Palace Museum and it was an enlightening one hour session with my pretty tour guide.
Apart from the remakable history I learnt at the palace, one thing my sojourn to this place taught me is that you cannot be prepared for death.
I later learnt that the presidents wife who is an Hutu extremist was among those who plotted to kill the president. Despite the security and charms that the had, the source of his death was within and I doubt he knew.