Visit by the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Diocese of Norwich

On the 9th November the Archbishop of Canterbury led a service at Kings Lynn Minster during his 2 day visit to the Diocese. It was well supported by local churches and by the primary schools in Kings Lynn where pupils led the singing.

The Archbishop then interviewed a Rwandan poet, Richard Benda, about his experience during the genocide in his country in 1994. During this interview, a poem of Richard’s was read out.

The first 2 verses were:

He was on a boy
eight or nine years - or thereabouts.
He was lying in a pool
of tan and ruby fluid.
He made as if to talk
only a painful hiss-
they’d severed the conduit.
Air could not be sound -
only shallow breath.

So I held his hand
and looked into his pure eyes:
I held his gaze.
Hurt, accusation and confusion
met mine.Still I held on.
Desperation drove away guilt-
why should a child’s last sight
be one of bearded barbarity,
greying savagery, wrinkled madness?
I tried to look human,
a kind adult face,
but what can a guilty gaze do
against a hundred murderous eyes,
a gentle squeeze against scarlet blades?

Although you might not think that this subject would be a good one for discussion with a group of primary school children, it did work really well. The Archbishop knows Rwanda well and combining this with having Richard who lived through the genocide and the very moving poem, made for a thought provoking occasion.