THE RWANDAN HISTORY should inspire each and every citizen to strive for a united society and make efforts to ensure that the country’s achievements are protected against anything that might destroy them.
This was the message to hundreds of residents of the northern district of Burera, on Thursday afternoon, as the Kwibuka Flame reached Rugarama Sector.
The torch’s arrival in Burera marked its 17th stop.
The Kwibuka Flame tour is part of activities ahead of the 20th commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
The Flame, which departed from Kigali on January 7, is being used to light other lamps across the country and is set to reach all the districts before April 7.
As the Flame made it to Rugarama, carried by a young man and lady both aged 20, the hundreds of residents who had gathered for the occasion stood in respect and applauded its arrival.
Some bystanders waved white ribbons to welcome the Flame, which they said is a “sign of life after years of darkness.”
Speaking at the event, the Minister for Education, Dr Vincent Biruta, told Burera residents that the torch is an indication that the Rwandan spirit will continue to prevail.
“At the time of the Genocide, many thought Rwanda was finished. Indeed it had become a land of death, tears and wailing; infrastructures had been destroyed, so many people had been killed while thousands of others had fled,” Dr Biruta said.
“But for the last twenty years we have risen to success and proved that what bonds us together has never died.”
The minister said the country has registered significant achievements in all sectors of life, singling out education, health, good governance, security and social and economic welfare among areas which have seen significant growth in the past twenty years.
“What we have achieved gives us reasons to believe that the future beholds the best for all of us,” Biruta said, cautioning that “the road ahead remains too long.”
He told residents that they have the responsibility to ensure that what the country has achieved remains intact and untouched and serve as the foundation to attain much more.
“What we have achieved is based on our unity. We have the responsibility to continue ensuring that we remain together and continue to work for the good of our country,” he said.
The minister also urged residents to continue promoting Rwandan values within their lives and advocated for mutual support to ensure that no one is left behind.
Burera mayor Samuel Sembagare told residents that Rwanda experienced the bitterness of the fruits of divisionism and discrimination through the Genocide.
He commended survivors for being resilient enough to start new lives despite the many challenges that came with the tragic 1994 events.
“Let’s continue extending a helping hand to survivors to support them in their efforts to live better,” Sembagare said.
Killed on baseless accusations
The current Burera District, which is made of the former Kidaho, Butaro, Nkumba, Cyeru and Nyamugari communes, is known to have been captured by the Rwanda Patriotic Army in the first days of the Genocide, thus limiting the numbers of Tutsis massacred in the area.
Many of the Tutsis who were killed in Burera died between 1990 and 1994, according to testimonies.
Rugarama memorial site hosts the remains of 16 victims killed before 1994 for opposing the genocidal regime, while another 97 are buried at Kirambo site.
Fabien Niyonsenga, 41, a survivor, testified of how many Tutsis were killed in the build up to the Genocide on false accusations that they were accomplices or sympathisers of the RPA.
“The plan to exterminate Tutsis had been hatched well before the death of [former president Juvenal] Habyarimana,” he said, commending the RPA for putting an end to the Genocide.
Niyonsenga said for the past years survivors have been striving to live better and have succeeded.
“This Flame will remain forever as a symbol of hope for a better life, peace and unity, and an indication that we have overcome the darkness of Genocide,” Niyonsenga said.
THEY SAID . . .
Juvenal Muvunyi, student.
‘Today is the right time to think on the ‘why’ of this Flame. The torch is here because of our dark past; that is a reality. It should then show us the right path to avoid mistakes that led to the mass killings and ensure that our country never experiences genocide again.’
Aliane Ugirabe, 19, student.
‘This Flame further strengthens our hopes to inherit a prosperous nation. We were born in a country that had been torn apart, but thanks to efforts from our leaders and Rwandans at large, our future looks bright. It is our turn, the youth, to fight divisionism to keep our country on good track.’
Elias Harerimana, 70, resident.
‘We have felt the pangs of death and know what hatred yields. It’s time we worked together to prevent the evil from occurring again in our country. This Flame is a symbol that good will continues to prevail.’