Rwanda - The Rise And Fall

Lorne Clarke & Tom Flannery
Language: English

List of versions

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© 2004 Tom Flannery and Lorne Clarke
a production
Clarke & Flannery love to hear your thoughts on the song cycle. Email them to

rwandaThis is not a history lesson. We're not historians. We're songwriters. And anyway... how the hell is anybody going to explain the systematic state sponsored slaughter of close to a million people with a handful of songs? We're not.

Truth is, there is no explanation for the Rwandan genocide. What there is in abundance, however, is ignorance. If these songs make just one person dig a little deeper, then we've made our money back, so to speak. We've touched upon specific pieces of the horror, but don't even pretend to be able to understand it from the Rwandan point of view. We're observers from afar. Interested, heartbroken observers....but merely observers nonetheless. Please keep that in mind.

All of these songs are solo acoustic performances...recorded live with a digital 8 track studio in Northeastern Pennsylvania. The full lyrics are available, as are the complete recordings in both mp3 and quicktime formats. Notes for each song are provided, giving some insight into the creative process....and explaining where explanations are necessary. The entire project is only available via the internet. There is no "official" CD of this music. This is strictly an "online" project.
This is partly due to economics, but also because once a CD is released, it can't be changed. We're likely to add new songs here at any time.

Individual essays are also posted, because some ideas that we have probably can't be conveyed using the song form alone. These too will probably grow in time. Also, a brand new play by playwright Tom Flannery called Rwandan Eyes is available exclusively here.

Everything here is free. Listen, distribute freely, discuss.

Do everything but steal.

Tom Flannery & Lorne Clarke.


In October 1993, the UN sent Lieutenant General Romeo D'allaire, and a small multinational contingent of Peace keepers, to Rwanda to support the implementation of the Arusha Peace Accords.

In January 1994, D'allaire and his troops uncovered the deatils of the genocide - including the names of the prinicple leaders, locations of training centres, and locations of arms caches.

D'allaire communicated his discoveries to the UN offices in New York - but was stonewalled by lifetime beaurucrat and diplomat, Iqbal Rizza - who was second in command of the Office of Peackeeping (headed by now UN Secretary General, Koffi Annan).

When D'allaire requested clearance to take military action to sieze the arms caches and initiate action to stop the planned killings, he was cautioned about overreacting and reminded that he was not to inflame the situation. He was reminded that the UN member nations did not want a repeat of the Somalia debacle.

The UN also refused to reinforce D'allaire's sparse force - and in fact they actually withdrew some of the troops he already had. Then they literally abandoned him to act as a passive witness to the slaughter.

The images in the song are not exaggerations - disturbing as they might be. The culpability of the nations on the UN Security Council cannot be debated.

In 1948, following WWII and the holocaust - the nations of the world banded together and pledged, "Never Again."

I wonder, will they mean it this time?
Crouching in a muddy pool in a ditch beside the road
Covered with blood and drenched in sweat
Though she is chilled right to the bone
She holds her hand across her baby's mouth
There's a roadblock at the village edge
And they're going house to house
And she can see the firelight reflected by the blades
As they rise and fall and fall and rise
And rise ---- to fall again

The butchered, bloody corpses of her family fill the road
Where half-mad snarling dogs
Are tearing flesh from off their bones
Blood runs from a gash above her ear
Left for dead with her baby girl
And paralyzed by fear
And she can see the firelight reflected by the blades
As they rise and fall and fall and rise
And rise ---- to fall again

Silently she watches the militia search for prey
Flames rise up from her neighbor¹s house
As they stand outside and wait
And when three small children run outside
Two are shot and one is stopped
By a blade between the eyes
And she can see the firelight reflected by the blades
As they rise and fall and fall and rise
And rise ---- to fall again

Then Romeo is calling
It's the middle of the night
The barometer is falling
He wants to do what's right
To try to stop the killing
To seize the guns and blades
He's ready and he's willing
But Iqbal Riza says...

"I will pass this on to Koffi
But there are things that you don't know
Belgium is unwilling
America just says, "No"
And the French have their own interests
There's no need to interfere
This is just a tribal skirmish
At least that much is clear

But he can see the firelight reflected by the blades
As they rise and fall and fall and rise
And rise ---- to fall again

And when he asks for reinforcements
He's told there are none to be had
There's all that trouble in the Balkans
Where things are really bad
So we've redefined your mandate
Now you're just there to observe
Maintain communications
Till we give you the word

But he can see the firelight reflected by the blades
As they rise and fall and fall and rise
And rise ---- to fall again

Contributed by CCG Staff - 2007/9/17 - 20:51

Oggi su radio 3, il programma Wikiradio è stato molto interessante e ben fatto: hanno parlato del genocidio avvenuto in Rwanda, spiegando le cause remote della vicenda e la corresponsabilità dell'ONU, di Kofi Annan, di Mitterand, degli Usa e in generale di chi poteva fare qualcosa per impedire o limitare il massacro. Hanno anche raccontato che il film "Hotel Rwanda", che a suo tempo ho visto ed apprezzato, e che ha avuto il merito di far conoscere al mondo occidentale una tragedia a cui era stato dato scarsissimo rilievo nei media, in realtà è un falso, in quanto il protagonista non fu l'eroe che appare nel film, ma un individuo cinico che offrì sì rifugio a dei disperati, ma solo in cambio di tutti i loro averi.
Mi piacerebbe che le canzoni e le note di questo percorso apparissero anche in italiano...con calma se è possibile.

Silva - 2014/4/7 - 20:44

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