KINGSTON—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.
“We never had to worry about what we were going to eat tonight,” said Makoko at the University of Rhode Island last Thursday. “If you have money or not, you will still live, because we produced everything we lived on.”
“Sometimes, [I] would go through the mountains without having any money in my pocket, and it was fine,” he continued. “It 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.”
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, “Ladder to the Moon: A Journey from the Congo to America.”
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.
“When I moved to the city, I came to realize that my tribe was not liked in this city because of who we are,” said Makoko. “The 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.”
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