Imanna – an Epic Poem on The Rwanda Genocide
Imanna is an epic poem on the Rwanda Genocide written using the nine-line Spenserian Stanza.
Imanna is the voice of the dead of the Rwanda Genocide because it is intended to defy the boast of the killers that there would be none left to tell the story of the victims. It gives the victims the voice to tell their own story. In the poem, the goddess herself, Imanna of Splendour, names by name each of Rwanda’s dead. In so doing, Imanna opens the Seeing Eye of the Souls of the dead. Once the Seeing Eye of the Soul of the dead is opened, each of Rwanda’s dead follow Imanna’s sacred Flame out of the abyss unto the sun-drenched realms of bliss. Thus
Imanna is also the journey of the Soul on that epic journey on the quest for the sun-drenched realms of the blessed.
Twenty-five years ago this week Rwanda descended into the abyss when the plane carrying the Rwanda President Juvenal Habyarimana and his Burundi counterpart Cyprien Ntaryamira exploded in flames over Kigali’s evening night sky. Two surface-to-air missiles struck the plane as it was coming in to land after the signing of the Arusha peace accords in Arusha Tanzania. And with that mid-air explosion, the Rwanda Genocide had begun. Even writing this sentence sends me into tears for the tragedy that overtook is all when Rwanda descended into the abyss.
Imanna is not a political tract nor is it an act of finger-pointing over the Genocide. There is no rancour in these lines, no bitterness, and no blame: only a deep abiding sorrow at the fate that overtook Rwanda’s children in ’94. The sorry will never end; their names will not be forgotten – that is the aim of Imanna.
Imanna is an act of witness. It is the voices of the dead seeking the one who would name their names and thus grant them “journey’s end” the closure that the Genocide denied them all when they were denied burial amidst the slaughter.
Imanna is written using Spenserian structure (because of its heroic, epic pedigree, although there is nothing heroic about the Genocide). May the dead of the Rwanda genocide find these lines worthy as a memorial and act of witness for the tragedy that overtook them and Rwanda, this beautiful land. These lines are an offering to Imanna of Splendour the Muse of poetry, may you, flame-haired Goddess find these lines a worthy offering. Dearest Goddess, these lines are written in deep sorry and yet also in abiding love of you and your beloved land, Rwanda.