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KINGSTONâ€”As a child in the Congo, Georges Budagu Makoko remembers the beauty surrounding his village, the freedom and peace in which his family members lived. After the mass genocide in Rwanda in 1994, however, the region would never be the same again.
â€śWe never had to worry about what we were going to eat tonight,â€ť said Makoko at the University of Rhode Island last Thursday. â€śIf you have money or not, you will still live, because we produced everything we lived on.â€ť
â€śSometimes, [I] would go through the mountains without having any money in my pocket, and it was fine,â€ť he continued. â€śIt is funny, when I grew up, I used to see [his home] as a big house, but now you see it was very small. But the peace there was unbelievable.â€ť
On Thursday evening, Makoko spoke to a group of captivated students about his experiences growing up in the Congo and Rwanda during the early 1990s, all of which he has recounted in his book, â€śLadder to the Moon: A Journey from the Congo to America.â€ť
In 1986, Makoko left his village for high school study, but the education he received upon arriving in Uvira, a small city on the northern shore of Lake Tanganyika in the Congo, went beyond books and writing exercises.
â€śWhen I moved to the city, I came to realize that my tribe was not liked in this city because of who we are,â€ť said Makoko. â€śThe lakes are very beautiful, but I never got to enjoy the lake because of who I am, [and] every time I went there I was bullied. I would come back home very disappointed.â€ť
For the whole story, check out today's Narragansett Times.