Rwandans have learnt from their tragic history and are ready to do everything within their powers to protect the achievements the country has registered over the last 20 years, Defence minister James Kabarebe has said.
He was speaking on Thursday on the 29th leg of the Kwibuka Flame’s nationwide tour in Ndera Sector, Gasabo District, which attracted thousands of residents from around the urban district. The Flame will complete its national tour with a stop at Nyanza in Kicukiro District tomorrow.
Recalling that much as the Genocide against the Tutsi was committed and stopped by Rwandans, the minister said the Flame was a symbol of the country’s resilience in the face of unprecedented challenges over the last two decades.
He urged all Rwandans to discard any tendencies that might undermine their shared vision of building a strong and prosperous nation.
He outlined three important facts against the Genocide as; the Genocide against the Tutsi was thoroughly prepared and executed; that it was committed by Rwandans against fellow compatriots; and that it was stopped by Rwandans.
“The struggle to end the Genocide was not easy. It required patriotism, love and sacrifice,” Kabarebe said
He warned residents that there are still some individuals who would love to see the country descend into anarchy again, but emphasised that they will never succeed.
“The hands that stopped the Genocide are still ready to protect this country’s achievements,” he said.
“Our history should inspire all Rwandans to stand up against the evil,” Minister Kabarebe added.
He observed that Rwandans have tasted the bitter fruits of divisionism and are now determined to build a bright future.
“Today, after regaining hope, and after learning to differentiate bad from good, Rwandans can no longer fall into the trap of opportunists,” Kabarebe said to the applause of thousands of residents who had turned out for the occasion.
He said the Kwibuka Flame serves to remind everyone of the transformational journey the country has covered over the past two decades.
Gasabo mayor Willy Ndizeye said the Flame is “a symbol of our lost pride which we are struggling to regain and restore.”
He said in a bid to maintain the ‘Never Again’ resolve, the district had invested a lot of efforts in the fight against genocide ideology.
“Residents are proud of being Rwandans and they are no longer living under the shadow of ethnic hatred and divisionism,” Ndizeye said.
He said his district will continue to support Genocide survivors.
City of Kigali mayor Fidele Ndayisaba, said: “The fact that this Flame has been touring the country is an indication that what we decide to do together as Rwandans cannot be in vain. It is also a reminder of the power of our unity. It also tells us that even though we had villains who killed others, we also had heroes who were ready to sacrifice their lives for others.”
About killings in Gasabo
The current Gasabo District is composed of the former Kacyiru, Rubungo, Gikoro, Gikomero and Rutongo communes.
When widespread killings erupted in Kigali in the morning of April 7, 1994, thousands of Tutsi took refuge at Ruhanga Pentecostal Church. After a brief resistance, they were overpowered and killed by the Interahamwe militia, backed by government soldiers. Over 32,000 victims are buried at a memorial site built there.
At the same time, another group took shelter at Jali Catholic Church and were later killed by the militia working hand in hand with soldiers from a local military camp. The remains of more than 26,000 Tutsi were buried there.
On April 7, in Ndera, Tutsi and moderate Hutu fled to Ndera Neuropsychiatric Hospital, which was run at the time by white catholic clergy. On April 11, one thousand innocent civilians who had sought refuge at a junior seminary in Ndera were murdered. Five days later, more than 20,000 people who had sought protection at the hospital were also killed.
Belgian commandos were sent in, but only rescued foreigners and left hundreds of Tutsi to die at the hands of soldiers and the militia, according to testimonies.
For the handful survivors of the killings, Ndera stands as a grim reminder of the failure of the international community to protect Rwandans during the Genocide.