"Bitten"; Poem By Eli Ndatuje

One Sunday afternoon, I watched a dog sneer at its tail. I guess the tail was vying for a piece of his lunchtime bone, but afford me the courtesy of not understanding its mental process. It went on about its business and sucked the succulent marrow out the meatless bone till it finally had enough. And so it rose and chased its tail in circles to no avail.

I laughed of course, as I enjoyed my afternoon’s entertainment, but then I started to wonder. What if it did indeed catch its tail? In one leaping spin, what if it actually caught its own tail? Would it bite? The exhibited anger that drove the dog to its feet to spin around in circles in pursuit of its tail was more real than the illusive meat that it scraped from that bone; still, it sought vengeance for the disturbance. I then wondered how succulent the bone must have been to induce such anger. I wondered how long it took for the dog to develop such hatred for its tail, that it neglected to notice it was indeed its own tail.

I wondered if such self hatred could be attributed to the bone or to me; the one who served the bone and watched in amusement as the dog chased its own tail. I wondered how long I would let the dog rage fully and painfully chop at its own tail before I realized I did not like what I was witnessing. I wondered if I tried to intervene, would I possibly have my own hand gnawed off, and whether it was my war. I find it puzzling how a dog and its tail coexist from birth till death but could still be so repulsed by each other. However, to us as Rwanda, we surely cannot say it’s a concept so strange. I ask you to draw a parallel to the Rwandan genocide.

I, by no means intend to say that my beloved Rwanda is comparable to a dog. But I can at least say that in 1994, Rwanda caught the metaphorical tail, bit down hard, and still feels the pain from the end of its tail through its spine to the sharpened ends of its teeth. Never again should we allow Genocide, never again should the dog bite its own tail.

Poem By Eli Ndatuje Eli Bagirishya Ndatuje Rugege is a son of Rwanda and the world. Born and raised in Uganda, Eli moved to Canada at age 14 and has since made a home in Ottawa. As a proud Rwandan, his very much involved in his community; serving as the communication officer for the Canadian Association Of Rwandan Youths (CARY) Ottawa. Eli is also a graduate of Carleton University with a major in legal studies and a minor in psychology.