Kwibuka23: Rwandans on the healing journey

Tomorrow will mark the start of the genocide commemoration week, when Rwandans will be honouring the fallen victims that were massacred in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. Women Today’s Donah Mbabazi had a chat with different individuals recounting experiences on the healing journey, where it is so far and what can be done to aid further healing of the country.

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Fidel Rutayisire

Fidel Rutayisire, Chairman, Rwanda Men’s Resource Centre

For Rwandans in general, commemorating the Genocide helps to heal wounds from the past and contributes to promoting a sustainable unity and reconciliation process. It is in this period when people get the chance to apologise to survivors and comfort them. As for returnees, commemoration helps them to reconnect with the history, which contributes to healing wounds. When it comes to fighting the genocide ideology, we must first understand it and its negative impact. Genocide is a crime against humanity; we must raise awareness about it within our families, schools, churches and researching on it to find out why it comes about.   We cannot also talk about fighting the genocide ideology without talking about healing wounds from the past. Perpetrators are also wounded by what they did; we need to address psychological disorders within people who still have wounds from the Genocide.

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Honorine Uwababyeyi

Honorine Uwababyeyi, Women activist

This commemoration week has done a lot when it comes to the healing process. First and foremost, mourning is an essential part when it comes to healing the wounds of loss of loved ones. It is one way of showing respect more so to the survivors. We have come a long way, however, challenges still prevail. The government is working hand in hand with different stakeholders to fight hindrances such as the genocide denial well aware that this will not change overnight.  I also think education on behaviour change can be of help.

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Dr Joseph Nkurunziza

Dr Joseph Nkurunziza, Country Director, Never Again Rwanda:

Genocide doesn’t happen overnight. The 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi was a process which took time, resources and planning to indoctrinate the population. Through this process the citizens were incited into hatred, and this is how people’s mindsets and attitude were influenced to turn against their siblings, relatives and neighbours. Both the current government and other stakeholders are working towards educating the society to avoid the genocide ideology. But how can the fight against Genocide ideology be sustained? This has seemingly been a long battle that some even worry might wear out  but for it to still be afloat and contribute to building sustainable peace in Rwanda the following must be reinforced constantly; Initiate more programmes that bring people together  as this will provide a platform to discuss sensitive issues that have wounded them.  Secondly, we need to educate the citizens about importance of tolerance, diversity and the core values of the Rwandan society which are known as “Indangagaciro z’abanyarwanda”. Emphasis must be placed on the importance of rekindling a sense of unity, forgiveness and trust which is necessary to work together to transform society. Engaging citizens in participatory governance so that so they are involved from the grass root level so that  they are be able to understand their rights but also respect their colleagues rights. This will facilitate the respect of the rule of law, hence guarding the peace that has been achieved. And finally, emphasis must be put on the law criminalising genocide ideology.

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Fionah Ntaringwa

Fionah Ntaringwa, Fashion Model

Rwanda has come from very far and the commemoration period plays an important part because this is when we come together as a country to remember what happened to us and we make a commitment to never let it happen again. In the process we learn how it all started and we gain knowledge on different peaceful ways of solving conflicts and living as one people. Secondly, commemoration aids in the healing process. It provides a good environment for us to talk about our experiences, express our emotions and we are able to get proper counselling. It also helps in forgiveness and reconciliation process. Not only that but it also reminds us of where we have come from and how far our country has developed. This gives us motivation to continue working hard as one people to achieve our vision as a country.

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Pie Kombe

Pie Kombe, Reflexologist

The world knows what Rwanda went through, and how devastated it was after  the genocide. Much has been attained, thanks to efforts from various stakeholders. However, I think we need to do more in regards to healing. The survivors need to be shown continued support to help them outgrow the dark past. This is why the commemoration week will forever be helpful towards the survivors and the community in general.

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Diana Tumuhairwe

Diana Tumuhairwe, University graduate

Rwanda suffered a great loss during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, but looking at where we are now, I can proudly say that we are making it. The country is healing and we are uniting in peace, thanks for such platforms such as the commemoration week and other platforms that aid the healing process.