Last month Rwandans commemorated the anniversary of the country’s darkest hour, the genocide of hundreds of thousands by armed militias. David Masengesho, a 25-year-old from the capital Kigali, reports.
Every year, from 7th to 13th April, we have a commemoration week in Rwanda, the period during which all Rwandans and friend of Rwanda take time to remember what happened in 1994 against the Tutsi.
Parents, sisters and brothers, friends, colleagues and fellows all died innocently merely because of the way they were born or created. Last month the ceremony of commemorating the genocide against the Tutsi was officially launched at Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre, continued at National Amahoro Stadium in Kigali and in all Umudugudu, the smallest of administrative entities.
Members of Cabinet, Members of Parliament, Members of the East African Community Legislative Assembly, the East African Community Youth Council and youth representatives from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ministers and representatives from countries bordering and friends with Rwanda were all present.
His Excellence Paul Kagame, the President of the Republic of Rwanda and the guest of honour, inaugurated the commemoration week by putting flowers on mass graves with other high officials. He then lit a Light of Hope at Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre before going to National Amahoro Stadium.
From Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre the ceremony went on at National Amahoro Stadium where a large number of people living in Kigali city were gathered and heard from a number of high profiled speakers, such as the Mayor of Kigali City and the Minister of Youth. The President of IBUKA, the organisation representing 1994 Tutsi genocide survivors was also there, and one young lady survivor spoke on behalf of all youth survivors.
All of them spread a message about the commemoration theme: “Kwibuka jenocide yakorewe abatutsi: dushyigikire ukuri, twiheshe agaciro,” which can be translated as “Commemorating Genocide against the Tutsi : upholding truth, preserve our dignity”.
They said that the commemoration week is time to remember what happened and to take actions to ensure the genocide never happens again – in Rwanda or elsewhere in the world. Truth and dignity are the basis of fighting against negativity, revisionism and genocidal ideology.
In his speech, HE Paul Kagame said that if people do not commemorate they may forget themselves. Rwandans will not give up commemorating, they will commemorate even more than 100 times, he said. He emphasised that Rwandans owe themselves life, respect and dignity. He further told Rwandans that they shall build their country on fa oundation made of truth and dignity.
During this commemoration week many activities were carried out, like the burial of recovered bodies from the genocide, education work, memorial visits and exhibitions organised by the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide.
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