Over 800 youth gathered at Kigali Genocide Memorial, Gisozi, to pay tribute to young people who were killed during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Rosemary Mbabazi, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth and ICT, said the event served not only to remember slain youths but also provided opportunity for dialogue, reconciliation, forgiveness and unity.
Alphonse Nkuranga, the Executive Secretary of the National Youth Council, said it is important to involve youth in commemoration since they were not only victims, but perpetrators and rescuers at the same time.
“It is important to know that during the Genocide, many Tutsi youth were targeted by militia at roadblocks manned mainly by youth, and the Rwanda Patriotic Army which stopped the Genocide was also largely made up of youth,” he noted.
Norbert Shyerezo, the coordinator of the National Youth Council, said the youth, if well nurtured, could be agents of positive change.
“It is unfortunate that previous governments manipulated the innocence of young people by preaching hatred and divisionism,” Shyerezo said.
He called upon survivors to work hard to transform their lives.
MP Edouard Bamporiki, founder of YouthConnekt dialogue, an initiative that fosters unity and reconciliation especially among the youth, called on the youth to embrace ‘Ndi Umunyarwanda’, a national programme aimed at helping Rwandans to openly talk about the country’s history, forgiveness and reconciliation.
“This will help us get a sense of national identity as well as move away from ethnic-based identification,” Bamporiki noted.
He added that it is important to educate the youth about the country’s history since they are the future leaders.
“There are people who had not been born by the time the Genocide took place or were too young, it is crucial to not only involve them in commemoration activities but also teach them our history,” Bamporiki said.
Senate President Dr Jean-Damascène Ntawukuliryayo challenged the youth to emulate the patriotic spirit of the Rwanda Patriotic Army, which stopped the Genocide.
“You have all the reasons to work hard and lead your country to prosperity, because you have been provided with opportunities,” Ntawukuliryayo said.
He added that bringing together the youth to remember countrymen who died in the Genocide was a powerful weapon against those who may want to perpetrate a similar crime in the future.
Samuel Rukundo, one of the youth who participated in the commemoration condemned the Genocide and its perpetrators.