The day did not start well, when after only an hour into the journey I started getting stomach cramps. Knowing that there were two more hours to go until we reached our destination I was facing the embarrassment of having to ask the coach to stop for, er, well, shall we call it a pit stop. Luckily the cramps gradually went away!
It took more than three hours to get to Marambi. None of us knew what to expect. What we experienced will affect every one of us for a very long time indeed.
As well as the mass grave, in which 50,000 Tutsis are buried, there are at least a dozen rooms with dead bodies laid out, all cased in lime. The smell was something which will stay with me for a very long time indeed. One room was full of bodies of children and babies. It was at that point I lost it. Alice, my cameralady, was extremely upset and tears were rolling down her face as she filmed. I did a piece to camera which was, shall we say, highly emotional. We were then shown a site where French soldiers built a basketball court on top of a mass grave. I cannot tell you how hated the French are in Rwanda. Their soldiers were sent to Marambi and actually protected the killers, who had hacked to death 50,000 Tutsis in 48 hours. I'll be writing more about France and its role in Rwanda tomorrow.
We then met one of only six surviors of the genocide at Marambi. Take a close look at the photo and you can see the bullethole in the man's head. Because he had a bullethole the Hutu militias left him for dead. He escaped by walking through the hills to the border with Congo.
I then interviewed Mary Blewitt. She is such an inspirational figure. Her brother was one of the first to be killed in the genocide. She recently received a letter from the government asking her to exhume his body as they wanted to build on his burial site. So yesterday, thirteen years after his death she had to rebury him. She agreed to talk about it in the interview, and as you can imagine it was fairly emotional.
Just to say, the reason I am in Rwanda is to make three documentaries for 18 Doughty Street - one on the Conservatives and Project Umubano, the second on the genocide and the third on life in Rwanda today. So far we must have filmed about five hours of footage in two days.
When we got back to Kigali Alice and I had no way of getting back to our hotel so we decided to take our lives in our hands and hail two cabs. Why two, you may ask. Well, Rwandan cabs are motorbikes, not cars. So we were whisked through the streets of Kigali on the back of a couple of bikes. I can't pretend it wasn't slightly exhilarating, because it was. Alistair Burt MP (pictured above with the genocide survivor) has also taken to them apparently.
Tonight I had the somewhat odd experience of doing a live interview on News 24, from our hotel balcony in Kigali, but not on Rwanda, on David Cameron's apparent popularity problems. I don't know what it looked like on the TV, but it did feel as if I should have signed off by saying "John Simpson, Baghdad" as the setting was very similar to that which the BBC use in Iraq!