Sleeping before a day in Africa

I’m dying — spent 17 hours sleeping off some of this man-flu and am barely capable of conscious thought atm.

After realising that, just maybe, 17 hours’ sleep at once is more than I need (not that I’m complaining too much: I’ve had some fantastic, vivid, weird dreams), I figured I’d catch a couple of DVDs.

When I went to collect my newly-repaired specs on Wednesday, I popped into WHSmith and bought some films. First up was The Interpreter, which I really enjoyed. I really like dramas set in the UN; they can combine the familiarity of the contemporary with the intrigue of Berlin in the Cold War, or Casablanca in the early 1940s. Nicole Kidman, as ever, is a fantastic actress — and very good with accents, she sounded very convincing (most of the time, to my European ears) as a white southern African.

Next up Hotel Rwanda. Rather a change of pace, but it’s a film I’ve wanted to see for a while. Thankfully, Don Cheadle‘s Centr’africain accent is better than his Cockney one ;o)

He played Paul Rusesabagina, the House Manager of the Hôtel des Mille Collines in Kigali. Through his astonishing bravery and humanity, he sheltered 1268 Tutsi and Hutu refugees in the hotel, bribing the Interahamwe and, with his guests, pulling every string he could manage, for example telephoning the president of Sabena Hotels to thank him for his kindness now he’s about to leave his service. The president of Sabena, of course, was shamed into trying everything he could: speaking with the Belgian and French governments to pull strings with the Hutu Interhamwe, who were supplied by the French. Paul Rusesabagina is an amazing man, who did some amazing things; I would very much like to meet him.

It’s strange that so few people here in the West seem to understand that these events — the US and UK forcing the UN abandonment of Rwanda to wallow in Western-made (well, Belgian-made) ordure — are one of the most shameful events in recent history.

The only country where the events of Rwanda seem to be even remotely well known is the US, where the Rwandan genocide — which we not only allowed to occur, but abetted — is used as a stick with which to beat the UN.

And understandably so: Rwanda was the worst failure in the history of the UN, with Kofi Annan having been head of peacekeeping at the time. Though the shame rightfully rests with the West: the nations of the Security Council (including ourselves here in Blighty) who prevented the UN from intervening, who deliberately avoided using the word genocide, in the knowledge that doing so would have compelled them to do something, to prevent it, to make a difference.

All that is needed for evil to succeed is for good people to do nothing.



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