For someone who has never been to the country, all that comes to mind when ‘Rwanda’ is mentioned is death and disaster. ‘What more is there,’ they wonder. To them, there doesn’t seem to be anything even remotely fascinating about the country.
Being my first time here, I was totally taken aback by almost everything I saw when I arrived at the capital. From the articulately manicured gardens to the best road network I have ever seen, I wandered through the city of Kigali unashamedly agape. A peaceful aura and a really captivating laid back gaiety encircled the city, which is a refreshing change from the frustrating hustle and bustle of my home city.
Right from the regular different road users to the shopkeepers, the city is an almost perfect epitome of discipline. No one seems to break any rules, even in the absence of policemen! The city comprises of men and women of all ages as there is a lot of activity and business which are the principal components of a budding city.
Save for the memorial sites, there is absolutely nothing that suggests a gruesome massacre of over one million innocent people in April 1994. In fact, if I didn’t have some knowledge about the country’s history, I would swear it was all a hoax! I loved every part of the city I had the pleasure of seeing. One thing that completely eluded my mind was the commemoration custom every April.
On the 7th of April I walked out of the house with my usual tourist-enjoying-myself grin. The lady at the shop hadn’t opened and it was 7.00am. I frowned and came to a conclusion that she was simply lazy! I wasn’t bothered too much about it though since another local sales boy Kwizera always opened up early.
To my disappointment, he too was closed! Surely there was something wrong, I told myself. I then noticed that all the shops and business centers were not opened. It was as though the whole country had come to a standstill. And why was I seeing purple a lot more?
It finally dawned on me that the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi happened eighteen years ago. This was when Rwandans and other sympathizers took time to remember the brutal events of 1994 that claimed over one million innocent lives. The sordid details of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi have been depicted in one way or another especially in books, movies and documentaries, making it an unforgettable chapter in the country’s history.
However, what some people don’t know is that Rwanda has made a tremendous success in rebuilding itself in every aspect ever since that fatal carnage. It is really pathetic that some people out there do not see Rwanda past the genocide.
They don’t see the tireless effort put up by the government, the non-government bodies, the youth and the whole Rwandan community in a bid to heal the despicable emotional scars deliberately inflicted on its citizens after 1994.
Remarkably, all the solution strategies in the blue prints to rebuild Rwanda are to a great extent, in connection to reconciliation. The solidarity, unity and uniform urge to get as far away from the past and also build the foundation on which nothing of the sort will ever happen again, is the most fascinating thing about Rwanda. In short, I couldn’t think of a more promising country!
Nothing is predestined: The obstacles of your past can become the gateways that lead to new beginnings - Ralph Blum