In his Genocide anniversary speech on Monday, President Paul Kagame gave a moving tribute to all Rwandans, particularly the survivors, for graciously letting go of the bitterness from the horrific events that engulfed this county two decades ago, and joining in the campaign to build a new Rwanda.
The President shared a heartbreaking story of a young man who was pulled alive from under 3,000 bodies in a mass grave in Murambi in 1994 – along 11 other survivors – but who has courageously forgiven his former tormentors because, as he put it, “I could not do it unless I was convinced that these impossible choices are leading us somewhere better.”
Such stories abound all over Rwanda. In a special commemoration edition of this newspaper on April 7, we ran a story about a Genocide survivor and a perpetrator, Bernadette Mukakabera and Gratien Nyaminani, respectively, both resident in Nzahaha Sector, Rusizi District, whose families took a bold decision to break the uneasy silence, take responsibility, seek pardon and forgive, and subsequently reconcile.
This paved the way for their children to fall in love and subsequently get married. It is such people that continue to hold this country together and, like the President observed, they are “the seed from which the new Rwanda grows”.
In his historic speech, Kagame also stated that post-Genocide Rwanda is what it is today thanks to three fundamental choices Rwandans made; to be together (unity), be accountable to ourselves, and to think big.
Over the last twenty years, Rwanda has indeed made very unique and difficult decisions. They are choices that had never been applied elsewhere just as the nature of the tragedy we had suffered was unprecedented in every sense of the word.
Over the last 20 years, this country has not only rebuilt, it has grown to a level no previous government dared dream. In 2000, just ten years after the Genocide, the people and leaders of Rwanda embarked on an ambitious development journey, they rolled out an economic blueprint – Vision 2020 – which seeks to transform Rwanda into a middle income, knowledge-based economy. All socio-economic indicators speak for themselves.
This is a country that’s truly on the road to self-sufficiency. From our roller-coaster experience, the bigger the dreams the more impeccable results you get.