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Albertine (Brooke Fraser) (New Zealand)
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In 2005, Brooke Fraser took a trip to Africa, to immerse herself in Rwanda; in this trip, she was so moved that she wrote the song "Albertine", about a young child named Albertine, whom she met while in Rwanda.

I am sitting still.
I think of Angelique,
her mother's voice over me.
And the bullets in the wall where it fell silent.
And on a thousandth hill, I think of Albertine
there in her eyes what I dont see with my own.
Rwanda

now that I have seen, I am responsible.
Faith without deeds is dead.
Now that I have held you in my own arms,
I cannot let go till you are.

And I am on a plane across a distant sea
but I carry you in me
and the dust on, the dust on, the dust on, the dust on
the dust on my feet.
Rwanda

now that I have seen, I am responsible.
Faith without deeds is dead.
Now that I have held you in my own arms,
I cannot let go till you are.

I will tell the world,
I will tell them where I've been.
I will keep my word,
I will tell them Albertine.
Rwanda

now that I have seen, I am responsible.
Faith without deeds is dead.
Now that I have held you in my own arms,
I cannot let go till you are.

And I am on a stage, a thousand eyes on me.
I will tell them, Albertine.
I will tell them, Albertine.

Broke Fraser wrote:

In 1994, the tiny Central-East African nation of Rwanda was devastated by genocide. Almost one million Rwandan were killed at the hands of their neighbours, friends and community leaders within the short space of 100 days…the catastrophic outcome of decades of tension and fighting between two ethnic groups – the Hutu and the Tutsi – a conflict that did not exist before Belgian colonists moved in during the first part of the 20th century and introduced an alien political divide.

My first visit to Rwanda occurred in June 2005, eleven years on from the atrocities. I visited local authorities, churches, schools, official memorials and living ones: child-headed households and communities living with AIDS, facing life without adequate medical care or basics like clean water. I met a people who are humble, joyous, diligent and in deep pain.

On the day before I was to fly out onto Tanzania, my friend guide Joel Nsengiyumva took me to a village school in a district called Kabuga. He wanted me to see that Rwanda had hope – and no better way to see it than in the next generation. The kids and I exchanged songs and dances, and as things wrapped up and we were about to leave, Joel asked if we could take a few minutes and meet with an orphan whose personal history he was familiar with.

Throughout my trip Joel had introduced me to people as a musician from the other side of the world who was going to go back to my people, tell them about the people of Rwanda and help. No pressure. That afternoon we walked across the schoolyard into an empty classroom, joined by a tall, beautiful girl wearing the school’s cobalt and navy garb, where Joel’s introduction was about to become a kind of commission.

Just before he shared her story with me, that of one person laying down their life for another, he uttered these words:

 “You must go back to your people and you must write a song, and I will tell you what the name of the song is going to be.” He motioned toward the girl.

“Albertine.”

Albertine is alive today because of the selfless, sacrificial love of another. Funny thing is, so am I.

And now I want to know what it’s like to love other people like that,

so have decided to spend my whole life on the experiment.

- Brooke Fraser-

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