Music, dance and ululation summed up the mood as hundreds of Kirehe residents gathered to welcome the Kwibuka Flame on Thursday.
The Flame that arrived in the south-eastern district from Rukumbeli in Ngoma District was marking its 27th leg of its nationwide tour.
As residents started gathering shortly after midday, music blared from loudspeakers as the residents sang along, danced and cheered.
The emcees took time to warm up the audience with a number of popular songs before giving platform to traditional musician Intore Tuyisenge, who sang and danced along residents.
He struck his popular rendition, Unkumbuje u Rwanda and Kirehe, a song he specially composed to hail the development of the district.
The Flame was accompanied by a convoy of about dozens of vehicles and motorcycles that drove from Cyunuzi to a ground near Kirehe District headquarters where it was handed over two 20-year-old school youths.
Banners inscribed with messages such as “Let this Flame light our hearts” or “Let this Flame be for all of us a symbol of hope for a better future” were unfurled as delegations of residents from various sectors of the district marched to the venue.
This was a true celebration of the post-Genocide transformation.
Source of inspiration
The Kwibuka Flame symbolises remembrance as well as the resilience of Rwandans over the past 20 years. It is on a tour of the country ahead of the 20th anniversary of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Residents who spoke to The New Times said the Flame embodies the message that Rwandans should celebrate the achievements registered over the past two decades.
“It instills into us the courage to remain together and work to uplift our lives,” said Jean Bosco Rutayisire, 36, a resident of Gatore Sector.
Matthieu Fashingabo, 58, said: “Because of bad leaders, Rwanda was once a den of divisionism, discrimination and hatred. But today it is a whole new life. The story is that of good governance, unity and growth. We should continue making efforts to ensure that our country remains peaceful and continues on its path of development.”
Speaking at the event, Kirehe mayor Protais Murayire urged residents to keep championing better livelihood because they have been given the foundation through various developmental programmes and the many achievements registered over the past 20 years.
“We should not allow the darkness to befall our country again. That dark episode of our history should teach us to strive for communities free from any divisionism and inspire us to love and respect each other,” he said.
The Minister for Agriculture and Animal Husbandry, Dr Agnes Kalibata, said the Kwibuka Flame is a source of inspiration and encouragement for Rwandans to keep working hard, remain united and strive for better lives.
She called for continued vigilance to safeguard the gains made so far.
“This light marks a new dawn; the break of a new day, a new beginning for our country, our people, our hearts and, more importantly, a new definition of the future,” Dr Kalibata said.
Scene of barbaric acts
When mass killings started in April 1994, in this area, Tutsis fled to Nyarubuye Catholic Parish for sanctuary. Many others tried to escape to Tanzania.
But reports indicate that once the Interahamwe militia and soldiers learnt that some Tutsis were fleeing to Tanzania via Akagera River, they reportedly destroyed the boats on water.
Those that committed killings in Nyarubuye are said to have been trained militia, the reason the killings were grotesque. Some of the militia reportedly ate body parts of their victims, while others drank human blood.
Remains of at least 50,000 people who died in the area are buried at Nyarubuye memorial site.