Understanding the real causes of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, its consequences and upholding the ‘never again’ resolve will lead the country into a new era of prosperity and growth, residents of Rulindo District have been told.
The message was delivered yesterday as residents gathered in Rusiga Sector to welcome the Kwibuka Flame as it completed its 19th stop on its nationwide tour.
The remembrance torch, which is set to reach all districts before the start of the official national Genocide commemoration week on April 7, arrived in Rulindo from the neighbouring Gakenke District.
The Minister in the Office of the President, Venantie Tugireyezu, told Rulindo residents that the time has come for them to reflect on the country’s past, try to deeply understand the real causes of the Genocide and its implications on lives and continue to make efforts to ensure that it never happens again.
“We must strive to understand why a part of the Rwandan population turned against their fellow countrymen; their neighbours, the people they shared the same life, the same culture and the same language, with,” Tugireyezu said.
“It’s time to thoroughly analyse why people were killed in churches; why preachers, pastors or priests turned against their followers; why teachers killed their students and vice versa and why people turned against their relatives, friends, siblings, parents or neighbours,” she said.
“That was a result of discrimination and hatred that were promoted from the colonial era until the time of the Genocide. Bad leaders changed what were then social classes into ethnic groups and encouraged people to hate their fellow countrymen.”
Tugireyezu told residents that the consequences of the Genocide have impacted the life of every Rwandan and challenged them to make efforts to avoid anything that might take the country back to the dark times.
“This Flame is an indication that we have moved out of darkness and that now there is hope for a better future,” she said, challenging the residents to draw lessons from the country’s history to help build a strong nation. She also urged residents to fight genocide ideology and denial.
Tugireyezu said for the past 20 years, Rwanda has registered significant achievements and called for joint efforts to safeguard and sustain the success.
“We are yet to attain the level of development we want. We should thus never relent from hard-work and commitment to improved lives,” she said.
Rulindo mayor Justus Kangwangye castigated some former leaders and teachers whom he said spearheaded discrimination within communities and taught pupils to hate their fellows.
He said some former teachers used to discriminate against Tutsi students, ridiculing them in front of their peers.
“Fortunately, that now belongs to the past. Today, educators are doing a great job in teaching and nurturing our children without discrimination. They are teaching them love and unity,” Kangwangye said
He commended survivors for their “unwavering courage” to rebuild their lives despite the many challenges brought about by the Genocide.
Pastor Celestin Nsengiyumva, a Genocide survivor, said for the last two decades every survivor has been working hard to uplift their living conditions.
“We have refused to be prisoners of the past despite the tough challenges we faced,” Nsengiyumva said.
Rulindo has some 18,600 Genocide victims buried in nine Genocide memorial sites in the district, according to officials.
Some of them were killed at local Pentecostal and catholic churches while others perished in public places or at public buildings where they had taken refuge with hope to survive.