Thousands gathered at Amahoro National Stadium in Remera as Rwanda remembered the victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, yesterday.
Formal ceremonies aside, local artistes, poets and musicians took to the stage and performed songs and recited poems that conveyed messages of hope. Sombre moments highlighted the event, as survivors tried to overcome the emotion of reliving the trauma of the massacres that left more than a million people dead.
Comedian and radio presenter Arthur Nkusi, his father Kennedy Mazimpaka and Liza Kamikazi joined fellow actors, who included students from Agahozo Shalom Youth Village in a touching play entitled Shadows of Memory, that took the audience through the Genocide tale.
Sobs could be heard in the crowded stadium as the play unfolded.
The moment seemed real as it brought out almost all the Genocide aspects including the betrayal by part of the international community with the role played by white actors and the liberators role played by people clad in military fatigue.
A 3-minute and 27 seconds video titled, Remembering the Past, Embracing the Future, was also screened to the audience.
Among the prominent entertainers, who featured in the clip were Avram Grant, former Chelsea manager (who is himself the son of a holocaust survivor), Romeo Dallaire, actor John Hurt of the 2005 film Shooting Dogs (that depicts the 1994 events), British actor David Harewood, French actress and model Neomie Lenor, Songstress Angelique Kidjo and actress Bianca Jagger amongst others.
Close to the event, about eight musicians Mani Martin, Maria Yohana Mukankuranga, Diane Teta, Jay Polly, Patrick Nyamitari (former TPF6 contestant), Liza Kamikazi and Franco-Rwandan MC and rap artiste Gaël Faye, got to the stage for the official launch of Duhagaze Twemye.
Duhagaze Twemye carries a message of unity and encourages Rwandans to support each other, especially during the mourning period. At some point, the crowd was almost moved to tears by its lyrics, but in the end there was a message of hope and encouragement.
Clad in black, the artistes braved the scorching sun and belted out the lyrics in front of a crowd that included President Paul Kagame and the First Lady, President of Uganda, President of the Republic of Congo, President of Gabon, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, President of South Sudan, President of Kenya, President of Somalia and President of Mali.
Also in attendance were the Secretary General of the United Nations, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, several senior government officials and Rwandans of all walks of life.