Gone but not forgotten

“We had been hiding in a hole, and each day he would come and give us food but that day I knew it was the last. He hugged all of us and then he left.” Explains Mbabalazi.

“We had been hiding in a hole, and each day he would come and give us food but that day I knew it was the last. He hugged all of us and then he left.” Explains Mbabalazi.

“Hi mum. Why did you go with everyone and leave only me.” A letter by a young girl left among the Genocide remains in Nyamata memorial site.

The guard explains to us that the girl walked in and placed the letter addressed to her mother neatly on one of the shelves in the site. Why I ask did she survive a war so terrible for a teenager such as her to fathom?

For security purposes the guard will not give further details about that girl but the truth is she is just one of the many children that orphaned by the Genocide at a time they could barely understand the loss.

“I was there. I can hardly remember what happened but I remember the last day I saw my father” says John Mbabalazi a first year student at the Kigali institute of Education. He explains that he saw his father crying on the last day he said bye to the family.

“We had been hiding in a hole, and each day he would come and give us food but that day I knew it was the last. He hugged all of us and then he left.” Explains Mbabalazi.

 “I was four but I can never forget the tear stricken face of the man who did not live long enough for me to know.”Mbabalazi remarks.

As I walk through the aisle of what was a church and is now the Nyamata memorial site. It is very real and scary the guard warns me but I cannot be afraid how can I fear to be at the presence these people?

They might be dead but their presence surrounds me. I am gripped by unexplainable emotion. I can almost feel their fear. The pulpit still stands stained in what seems to have been blood. I walk though the destruction and horror.

It is the faces of John’s and that little girl parents that I see as I walk through the countless bones of what remains of these beautiful people’s parents. I see the faces of the people who were brothers, siters, fathers, mothers, grandparents and neighbours.

Amidst the remains of that horror there lies a coffin that holds the body of a woman who died with a child on her back. She is said to have walked more than thirty kilometers to get to this church where she met her death. I see unimaginable courage among the ruins and remains of these people. I see heroism that only the ones present can ever explain. They might be dead but they represent those who lost their lives in a war not of their own making and we live to remember and honour their death.

I will not cry, because I will not mourn the incredible courage these people showed amidst unconceivable horror. They might be gone but they will remain forever inscribed in our hearts, in our memory because we will honour them even in death. They were here and that will never change.

I went to Nyamata for the memory of this people and for the future of my children so that the atrocities that happened here might never be forgotten. It is a lesson to us one that they died to have it in our memory.

It is a lesson that this can never happen again. Its might be emotionally draining but this is a journey we all have to take. It is hard to remember but what happened here changed our lives forever.

We might not forget but how do we remember these people? The best way to remember is to insist that the lessons learned from the loss be applied in our daily lives to move on we must understand the full extent of what happened here.

We must honour these people enough by allowing peace to prevail in place of the hatred that existed before.

We owe them that much. So yes let’s learn to love enough to forgive what now lies in the past. Lets love these people we lost and together learn to rebuild a home and a country to these children they left in our hands.

The second way to remember is to honour and cherish the survivors and to help them grow in strength and to listen to their stories as we celebrate our country’s triumph from the sad loss.

The memory must inspire us to renew our dedication to reconciliation and in finding peace for all Rwandans because that’s who we are.

I am honored to have walked across the halls of Nyamata because there lies the unimaginable lesson of what I want my country never to go through. Never Again.

Contact: pgathoni@gmail.com

 

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