At first I don’t see the individual bodies, just shapes. Then my eyes begin to focus. It’s not the skeletal remains that are shocking. It’s the stories that are written on those remains. You can see where machetes have sliced off limbs, where clubs have smashed skulls. You can see faces screaming in pain, upper bodies twisted in flight, hands contorted in anguish. Some torsos still have shirts on. Some hands still sport wedding bands. Some of the dead are children.
Suddenly I realize the others are waiting for me. This room is just one of dozens. We move on. The next room is similar. And the next.
For the people of Rwanda, the 1994 genocide is more than history. Reporter Jeb Sharp traveled there to learn how Rwandans are coping with the aftermath of their national tragedy. The story of the hundred-day slaughter has been told many times, but the years of its aftermath were seldom explained.
Sharp’s stories, with editor Jennifer Goren and engineer Ray Fallon, revealed the impact of the genocide on daily life in Rwanda. She witnessed the ongoing legal experiment known as gacaca, which tries to bring a measure of justice to victims — and fairness to perpetrators — through neighborhood tribunals. She tracked a community service program designed to break the logjam in Rwanda’s prisons and bring confessed killers back into society.
Judges said, “This entry demonstrated exceptional writing and storytelling skills. … The writing displayed simplicity, while at the same time took the listener through several layers of imagery and emotional description. This series of reports showed diligent attention to detail, as well as an analytical look at a complex situation.”
“The genocide,” Sharp said, “was one of the great calamities of the 20th century. We still have much to learn about why it happened and how it might have been prevented, and what more can be done to help the people who endured it to recover.”