Alessandro Caldarone
Senior Officer of External Relations
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Interview Date:
November 3, 2008
Arusha, Tanzania
Lisa P. Nathan
Donald J Horowitz
Nell Carden Grey
22:39 - 30:01


Lisa P. Nathan: I would like to ask you about your time in Rwanda. If you have some experiences there that you would be willing to share with us that really stick in your mind.
Oh yes, there is, there are two experiences that – one is more professional and the other one is human. It happens that one day, I met a person in a dinner. This person was singing, a Rwandese with a beautiful voice but very simple and nothing really, not attractive at all. I mean, now she passed away so, but very simple person, and she was singing nicely.
She was playing the guitar. And I, I thought that she could have done something better with the guitar. And, as I play guitar even though I cut my nails for the interview, so I approach her and I just show her a little bit how to, you know, to, to reach the – and, and we became friends.
So, she was coming at my place. I was seeing her. She was coming to the office also. And her name was Annonciata. One day, my driver told me, “(__), Alessandro, do you know who is that woman?” I say, “Yes, Annonciata. What is . . . ?” And finally, she was, the, the name of artist was Kamaliza who was one of the, probably the most important singer in Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, in that area.
And it was a magnifi-, it was fantastic experience because she came home with two dancers of the national ballet and we put her music and they were dancing. And I was playing with her the guitar. And it was ju-, and I went to, to see the, the kids because she was very keen, she was very – helping orphanage. Orphanage? Okay. So I was going with her.
And another si-, singer, now it seemed that he’s very famous. I don’t remember his name but he was there. But, Kamaliza, of course, she was – and the other one was just there dancing and so on. That was fantastic experience: To, to meet somebody like Kamaliza. And, even she, she, she was singing to me some songs which have never been published.
And she gave me a cassette where she was just singing those songs which are inedited, they’re not published but I don’t know where I put the cassette. But I hope one day I will find it. And, and after a couple of months, she, she passed away. She had an accident, and we don’t know exactly how she passed away. And I went to the funeral.
And I remember that all the personalities, even at that time he was not President, he was Minister of the Defense, Mr. Paul Kagame. He was there and other – Bizimungu, I think was the President but I’m not sure if he was there. But Kagame for sure was there and other representative of the government wa-, were there.
And m-, me, I just sat somewhere in the church and it was so –that was an amazing experience. And on the top, she was a Major of the Army but she never told me that.
And, and, and also, people told me that normally, she was not going out or looking for foreigner people or white people in general because of the history, I mean, of Africa sometime, you know, the white people did not play a good role and so you have this kind of reaction, generalization.
We are not all the same of course, but you know sometime people don’t like because they don’t like. And, so, I was privileged really, honored, privileged to have this human experience with Annonciata or Kamaliza.
And the other one was, I testified before a, a, a military court in Rwanda because I was in charge of, when they closed the Camp of Kibeho or, and other camps, the European Union and the United Nations wanted somebody who, to coordinate. And they chose me.
So I went to Butare. I put the bases in Butare – the, I mean the headquarter was in Butare. I was the chief there, no experience, nothing. I mean, you know, and how can you have experience such crime is so, you know?
So, but I was there. And the refugee camp was within the territory of Rwanda. Finally, they closed the camp. We had some killings. I did a report. And somebody was accused. One of the colonel of the FPL was accused there.
And finally, I, I wanted to go to testify because I was there. I was in Rwanda. I prepare a report. W-, I, I gave to Seth Sendashonga who was Minister of Interior at that time. I gave my report to him and so on. And, and, finally, I asked permission to the UN, I mean to the Deputy Prosecutor and he gave me this authorization more or less.
So I went to testify. And it was quite an impressive experience because I had hundreds of people behind me; maybe thousand of people behind me. And I had an interpreter. I don’t remember how many judges – seven, eight, nine. I don’t remember how many judges there. The colonel was sitting without grades. And it, it was quite a strong experience but I wanted to do it. I wanted to do.
And because of this experience after f-, some time, I, I received a cow as a present. You know the cow for the Rwandese is the most important present that they can give you.
You can give a, a telephone. You can give $1,000. You can give a, you can give a building. You can give hundred of thousand dollars but if you give a cow, this is really sign of respect because that is the tradition; it’s the history of the Rwandese and in particular the history of the pastor, the nomads, the Tutsi who are . . .
So, to receive a cow like for the Maasai, also here in Tanzania, is something very, very important, and I have a cow in Rwanda. And I'm really, I’m v-, very happy for that. I mean, I, I feel, I feel nice because probably what I did, even if I, I did not do to receive any – I do because I wanted to do. Nobody forced me to do anything but to notice that what I did has been appreciated by other people, and in particularly the Rwandese. B- is, you know, I like it.