At their age (most of them under 15), these youngsters do not know much about the brutal events that started on the night of April 6, 1994 — the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi that saw over one million innocent people mercilessly slaughtered.
However, every year, like all Rwandans, they pay tribute to the deceased and honour the survivors, through activities like ‘Walk to Remember’.
After their walk on April 20, students of Green Hills Academy converged at their school to listen to testimonies of people who survived the massacre.
During the gathering, Rwandan and non-Rwandan students alike pledged their commitment to spreading peace as an essential tool in the civilisation of mankind.
36-year-old Osee Uwamariya shared her story; she was 12 when the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi started in present-day Gisagara and Huye districts, Southern Province.
She recalls how her parents and four siblings were killed and how she narrowly escaped.
“It had started earlier in 1990 when we were separated in schools according to ethnic groups. I was told I was Tutsi but I didn’t know what it meant, even when I asked my mother, she didn’t tell me anything,” she said.
As Uwamariya told her tragic tale, she called on students to value the unity of Rwandans.
“You were born in a good country where humanity is valued; you were born in a country where the field is plain for everyone; be mindful of the equality we enjoy because it’s what we had lost in the last two decades” she said.
Pastor Antoine Rutayisire explained the history of Rwanda — pre and post-colonial —after which students asked that Rwanda’s history be told to them more often.
“This country valued life and refused slavery; no hatred is recorded among the social statuses of Hutu, Tutsi and Twa,” he said.
Rutayisire urged students to always talk about their country and share ideas on how to be good citizens.
Audrey Kamurasi, the head girl of the high school section, said learning about Rwanda’s past was eye opening because “it concerns all Rwandans, even those born after the Genocide.”
“There is a lot of history from other countries written and spoken about everywhere. We need more of Rwanda’s history told from people who know it well and in the form of books,” she said.
Kamurasi said that if the youth are to be good citizens, they definitely need to know the history of their country.