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Rwanda's Marcellin Gasana: A clan named after a dog

Ben Sutherland Ben Sutherland | 18:54 UK time, Friday, 30 July 2010

Marcellin Gasana is a Rwandan who took World Have Your Say around the country when we visited last year to assess reconciliation efforts after the genocide there in 1994. He will be writing a blog post for us each month ahead of this year's elections. This is his first entry.

Although my name is Marcellin Gasana, my clan is the Abengitori. We are well-known for its love towards dogs and I'm actually one of them - and since I was a kid I have to make sure that we have a dog in our family.

And the reason? Well, this is the story my mother told me when I was growing up...dog.jpg

In ancient Rwanda, people used to belong to different tribes depending on history or where they come from.

Once upon a time, an ancient Rwandan king went out for a hunting exercise. He left his wife (queen) with a servant whose responsibility was to keep an eye on the king's property.

Fourteen months later, the king returned from his long journey and found a 6 month-old baby boy in the arms of its mother.

The hunting exercise lasted longer than expected - two months - and the queen started to worry for his man. The nights were getting interminable, and the queen couldn't stand the lonely nights anymore.

She called the servant into the royal room, but the latter hesitated as he wasn't supposed to even speak to the queen or face her in the eyes. Finally he gave in and entered the room.

The servant had left the royal palace as he was afraid of being killed once the king returned.

The king had a dog called Gitori, and it was a good friend to the baby. Upset, the king immediately asked for the servant but he wasn't around.

Without asking any further questions, he grabbed the 6 month baby and ordered two other servants to take the baby to the forest and kill it.

On the way to the forest, Gitori - the baby's best friend - followed them at a distance. The king had ordered them to kill the baby but they couldn't. It was smiling with its innocent face, and this made the king's servants change their mind.

Instead of killing the baby, they just tied it to a tree. Gitori the dog was looking from a distance, and hid so that they could not see him.

As soon as the servants returned from the forest, Gitori the dog ran to the tied baby and immediately cut it loose. He grabbed it in his mouth and ran as fast as he could, reaching the king's palace before the two servants.

The king wasn't around and the queen was so saddened that she could neither speak nor get out of the palace. Gitori came in slowly and dropped the baby in the middle of the palace entrance and laid next to the baby.

The two servants the king had ordered to kill the baby arrived at the palace and found Gitori with the baby next to him.

Astounded, they just couldn't say a word. Gitori and the baby stayed there until the king returned. Gitori was the king's best dog.

When he saw them together, playing with the baby's hand in the mouth of the dog, the king just cried and took the baby in his arms and decided to give him the name of the dog.

The baby grew up as the king's son, got married, and had children who eventually got the same name of Gitori. Generations after them were called Abengitori, meaning Gitori clan.

I never understood why I was so angry against people who beat dogs, even those in street until my mom told me the story about Gitori.

"Common guys,
Let's love dogs,
They're so
Wonderful and faithful"

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