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Kaivon Williams ENC1102 Joseph Cottle January 18, 2013

The film Hotel Rwanda details how Paul Rusesabagina, general manager of the Milles Collines Hotel, took action and risked his life to save thousands during the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. Everyone who found shelter in the hotel survived. In April of 1994, Rwanda experienced one of the worst genocides that mankind has seen. The two races of the country, Hutus and Tutsis, had gone to war over feelings of vengeance and grudges that date back to before World War I. The racial division was created by Belgian colonists when they arrived in Rwanda. The Belgians chose the Tutsi to rule because they were already in power and had lighter skin similar to the Europeans. Soon after, the Belgians returned and began measuring nose and skull widths, deepening the tension that already existed between the Hutus and Tutsis. Eventually, the Hutus started a revolution to end the oppression that plagued them for so many years and ended the Tutsi’s rule. Hotel Rwanda has many underlying themes that allow it to be an interesting and intellectual film. It speaks about discrimination and stereotypes. These themes say much about our culture today. Discrimination is a significant hindrance of our society. Judging someone’s skills or personality solely on their physical appearance is an unjust and unfair evaluation of that person. In the film, Paul receives news that the UN is sending an intervention force to remove the refugees from the hotel and out of the country. However when they arrive, they make it known that they will only be taking the white foreigners from the hotel, such as the French and Belgian tourists. Just as the buses prepare to leave, a priest and nuns from a mission arrive with many children, believing that the children can go on the bus. The commanding officer tells the priest “no Rwandans.” In full knowledge of the horrible things that were occurring in Rwanda at the time, the intervention force broke their promise and left the Rwandans behind. Almost all of the


UN Peacekeepers were removed from the country. The West had chosen to leave the Rwandans to their fate because of the color of their skin. Discrimination is still prevalent in today’s culture. In the United States, the most often victims of discrimination are minority races such as African Americans, Asians, Mexicans, etc. Individuals of these races are seen as different from the majority Caucasian race. Discrimination occurs in a number of places. When applying for jobs, minorities may be seen as incompetent or only suited for certain positions because of their race. While in a store, African Americans may be watched more closely by workers who think they may steal something, all due to the color of their skin. Discrimination does not occur randomly, but rather is based in stereotypical views of race. Unrealistic perceptions of certain races cause our society to be broken. It limits what we can accomplish and stalls our progression into the future. The Hutu and Tutsi conflict is a prime example. The distrust and hatred that exists between the groups evolved into a national genocide. It will take years for Rwanda from the tragedies that took place in 1994, years that could have been spent developing the country for the benefit of its inhabitants. Showing courage can be a difficult task. We may need to gather the willpower to make a major change in our life, or to stand up to someone. Rarely does one need to have the courage expressed by Paul during the genocide. To stand in the face of an oppressor and refuse to give in to demands requires an immeasurable amount of bravery. “Courage as a virtue involved knowledge of the self as well as knowledge of the ends for which a danger was faced� (Schwartz, p.346-47). Paul experienced many frightful events during the genocide. Soldiers forced him and his family out of their home. He was ordered to kill his family members or risk being killed himself. The Hutu army continuously commanded him to turn over the Tutsi


refugees that were staying at his hotel. In the midst of everything, Paul maintained his resolve and stood up for what he believed was right. An example of his incredible resolve is when his family and a few others received exit visas to leave the country, he was prepared to sacrifice that opportunity and stay behind to protect the remaining refugees. Paul’s courage can be example to us all. Too often do we only talk about our concerns and problems rather than acting on them. Talking about the problem will never solve it. Instead we should set goals and make plans to achieve them.


Bibliography 1. Schwartz, N. (2004). "Dreaded and Dared":Courage as a Virtue. Palgrave Macmillian Journals , 36(3), 346-347. Retrieved January 17, 2013, from the JSTOR database.


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