Through the buzz of the restaurant Belle sighed and looked away. She was contemplating the peculiarity of her hidden heritage... Not Hutu...not Tutsi...but a careful blend of both on the rocks of exile like a modern cocktail drink in and amongst the traditional tribal divides of old. The possessor of a secret, not one held by her but in her...the forbidden love of a Hutu and Tutsi man and woman to that day she did not know which was which, a necessity to ensure her safety even in a foreign land.
Sixteen years earlier Belle,s mother had fled her beloved Rwanda to Congo, heavily pregnant and with a young belle in her arms. Her husband having urged her to flea and protect the or mb n.children had stayed to fight for their freedom with the intention of joining them one day...he never came... She does not remember much about her father, he mainly lived on in the stories her mother would share with her and he brother.
Life in Congo was not easy, particularly with the large population of Rwandan refugees living there. Belle's mother found a way for her young family to travel to Belgium and left Congo in search of a better life leaving her heart behind in Rwanda with her husband...her lover...her friend...
Belle seemed far away... lost in her thoughts as she recalled her childhood. Patchy as some of her memories seemed there were some really clear distinct scenes she could call upon without effort. Much like a favourite book she had lovingly and diligently devoured and now able to repeat it verbatim. In comparison to Rwanda, life in Belgium was not as easy for a single mother with two children as one would like to think. Belle's family grew incredibly close and her mother worked very hard to provide for her two children. The Rwandan refuges all lived in a similar district, the air thick with tribal tensions of their motherland. Belle spoke of how she had for a long time been ashamed to tell people she was Rwandan for fear that she would be classified based on the strife and genocide that had taken place in her country. She would volunteer Belgium as her place of origin more easily identifying herself as being from Rwanda.
At eighteen she said she has now become comfortable identifying herself as Rwandan, particularly as the country is moving forward enough from the time of war and genocide. To this day she does not know which of her parents is Hutu and which is Tutsi...All she does know is that the two can live peaceably side by side as her parents had shown her through their union.
See the full history of Rwanda's history here
Belle's Photo Gallery