President Paul Kagame yesterday delivered a powerful and inspirational speech as Rwandans in the country and abroad begun activities to commemorate the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
The President consoled survivors, saying that they still have a family in the nation that they belong to even if they lost their families during the Genocide. He reassured all Rwandans that no one will ever again be targeted because of who they are.
Kagame noted that Rwandans deserve to live a happy and dignified life of their choice and have collectively resolved to rebuild their country as they deem fit for themselves.
The Head of State delivered the message at the Kigali Genocide Memorial in Gisozi, from where the week-long activities to remember the Genocide against the Tutsi kicked off.
The President spoke out against those who deny the Genocide or distract Rwandans from achieving what they have set out to do.
He singled out those who have an issue referring to the Genocide against the Tutsi in its true name. It is, absolute nonsense, the President said, adding that getting involved in this nonsensical debate is giving platform to those who bear responsibility in the killing of one million Rwandans.
“Those struggling with understanding their responsibility are creating problems for us but they will not stop us from making progress,” Kagame said, adding that Rwanda is not looking out for reparations as no amount of money can compensate the lives lost. “We are after the truth. Not the money,” he said.
This year’s commemoration is being held under the theme: “Remember the Genocide against the Tutsi - Fight Genocide Ideology - Build on Our Progress”, which officials say will help Rwandans assess the progress made after the Genocide and how to sustain the country’s fast recovery from the mayhem.
The President pointed out that, as a result of the Genocide experience, Rwandans have emerged stronger and are ready to live a happy life in the future, where every Rwandan has a place in their own country.
“As Rwandans, we have to live our lives. We are going to live our lives the best way we think we should. Those who think they can change our course are welcome but they should recognise the formidable opponent in us,” Kagame said.
While at Kigali Genocide Memorial yesterday, Kagame and First Lady Jeannette Kagame were joined by the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, in laying wreaths in honour of over a million victims of the Genocide.
Then the Head of State and the AU Commission Chairperson lit the Flame of Remembrance at the memorial which will burn for 100 days during the mourning period to symbolise the courage and resilience of Rwandans after the Genocide.
Over 400 guests gathered at the memorial, including international leaders, dignitaries, survivors and their families, and representatives of survivor organisations.
The proceedings were broadcast live on TV, radio and online.
In his address, the AU Commission Chairperson, Faki, said that he was deeply touched by what happened in Rwanda but also consoled by the courage and resilience of Rwandans.
“The Rwandan people deserve respect and admiration,” he said, adding that what happened to Rwanda should never happen again anywhere else.
Kagame thanked all those who protected Rwandans who were targeted and recognised individuals such as Captain Mbaye Diagne from Senegal and Ghanaian peacekeepers who chose to do the right thing during the Genocide and saved people’s lives while they were serving under the UN Mission in Rwanda at the time.
During the events to commemorate the Genocide, which kicked off yesterday and will end Thursday, people in Rwanda and Rwandan communities abroad will be meeting to hear stories of how the Genocide was perpetrated and hold discussions on how they can work together to sustain the country’s recovery and gains.