Hi. This is Innocent again with more on my recent visit to the Dian Fossey site. For Team AoC and I, our trek to this historic place in Volcanoes National Park is timely as we are now preparing lessons that will focus more and more on the flora, fauna, and those who have played a pivotal role in protecting this forest.
Once we reached Karisoke Research Center’s earliest site and marveled at the beauty of the natural surroundings we were struck by seeing only the remnants of buildings. Guide Felix told us they were destroyed during the 1994 war! Here I am with Felix at the Karisoke Research Centre Staff House.
In our forthcoming classes, we will ask our students to share folklore they’ve heard from their elders regarding Dian Fossey and the gorillas she loved so much. We have come to realize thus far, that Dian Fossey – the mountain gorilla conservation pioneer – is undeniably deeply integrated in local legends. Proof comes in many forms, such as names Dian Fossey is referred to. For instance, Nyiramacibiri (in Kinyrwanda) meaning “the woman who lives alone on the mountain” and Mukecuru meaning “the old woman.” This is only a start, much more wonderful lore abounds.
Eric, Julie, Olivier, Eusebe, and I standing at the site of Dian Fossey’s original cabin as seen in early National Geographic articles. As you can see, only the crumbling foundation is preserved.
During our hike, I wanted to know why Dian Fossey was buried inside the forest and not in her town of birth, San Francisco, California. Felix, our RDB guide, told me that someone came across a written document by Dian Fossey after her 1985 murder which stated her wishes to be buried in the forest next to her beloved Digit, her favorite gorilla who had been killed by poachers.
Olivier, Amy, Eric and I standing at the remnants of Dian Fossey’s cabin she affectionately called The Mausoleum.
Being at this site together with my team and hearing testimonies from others allows me to better understand Dian Fossey’s statement, “I feel more comfortable with gorillas than people.” Honoring this opportunity to ‘walk in her footsteps’ I grow every more respectful and amazed by this tremendous woman.
I will keep informing you about this wonderful visit in an upcoming blog. Please stay tuned.