Sport has played a key role in Rwanda’s reconciliation journey over the last 23 years.
As the country marks the 23rd anniversary of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, the sports fraternity will once again join the rest of Rwandans to reflect on the role sport has played in uniting Rwandans and how this momentum can be sustained.
According to the Director of Sports in the Ministry of Sports and Culture, Emmanuel Bugingo, sport played a fundamental role in uniting Rwandans after the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi that the lives of over a million people in just 100 days.
In an interview with Times Sport, Bugingo said that Rwanda has risen from the darkest part of its history to become an exemplary nation and sport has been key in this journey.
Sport was one of the most affected (sector) by the Genocide. Several players, coaches and administrators were killed during the Genocide.
Bugingo reaffirmed that federations will organise competitions in memory of the sportsmen and women as well as all Rwandans, who were killed during the Genocide.
“The message to the sports fraternity is continue to be united during this difficult period as we have been doing in the past. As sportsmen and women, we need keep united and spread love to all Rwandans through sports,” Bugingo said.
He added that there is need to continue the good work of building strong relationships between Rwandans, which will help build a stronger and more prosperous country.
He noted that if there was unity among Rwandans before 1994, the Genocide against Tutsi wouldn’t have happened.
The former national volleyball team player noted, “We lost many people in sport and sport has been key to reunite people, so we must continue with the spirit of unity, which hopefully will change the mind of some people still harbouring genocide ideology.”
“Sports has the power to turn bad people into good people, that is why we need to continue working together with everyone to use sports as a unifying tool to reconcile Rwandans and build our nation,” he noted.
As a policy of the Ministry of Sports and Culture, between May to June, all sports federations are supposed to organise memorial tournaments to remember players, coaches, and administrators, who were killed during the Genocide.
Since 1995, the Rwanda Volleyball Federation (FRVB) has been organising annual Genocide memorial tournaments. The volleyball family lost over 50 of their members, while football, which was probably the most affected, lost over 70 people.
As the nation commemorates the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, there will be no sporting activities until after April 14.