The Genocide Survivors Students Association (AERG) celebrated the 25th anniversary of their existence last Saturday, November 6. It was a moment full of import. First, it was poignant with memories of the darkest period in Rwanda’s history. This country descended into the abyss. It had only two available options: remain there and cease to be or rise up and get out, survive and even thrive. Rwandans chose the latter, and in many ways the history of AERG symbolise that choice. Second, it was a moment of very deep emotion. You could not look at the AERG members, listen to their stories and witness their achievements and fail to be moved by it all. You feel a lump in the throat, eyes well with tears and you cannot trust yourself to speak. Even with writing about it, a certain heaviness clamps the hand. The emotions are many. There is a mixture of gratitude, pride and marvel that these young people are alive and well, defied death, refused to succumb to despair or give up on life. There is admiration for their resilience. They have not only survived but lived to help reweave the Rwandan social fabric that had been violently torn and make a meaningful contribution to rebuilding the nation. But there is also anger and revulsion at the people, the majority of the Rwandans, who conceived such a monstrous idea as the extermination of a whole people and executed it. And for those lucky to survive the Armageddon, condemn them to a life of misery, without family or future. The young people in AERG are proof of those horrific intentions but also of their futility. Somehow they survived and reconstituted the family as best they could and gave their members a sense of belonging, togetherness and self-worth that the genocidaires had thought they had destroyed. The very existence of AERG and the anniversary they marked last Saturday are in this sense both a rebuke to the authors of genocide and an affirmation of the principle of life. Looking at them and reflecting on all this, you could not help but imagine what might be going through the minds of the people who wanted to exterminate them. Do they also look at them and see in their youthful usefulness.an indictment of their actions twenty-seven years ago? Do they see in their defiance of death and determination to live proof of their evil deeds and perhaps feel some remorse? Maybe they say: what madness got into us, what demons drove us to such monstrosity and then vow it should never happen again? Do they recognise the futility of hate, of trying to destroy what they did not create, the destructiveness of an ideology and politics of division, exclusion and extermination, and so see in these young people a reminder of those terrible times and their mistake? Or perhaps the sight hardens attitudes and leads to regret of another kind? For indeed, there are some genocidaires or those descended from them, biologically and ideologically, who have not changed one bit and are trying to rekindle the fire of hate that nearly destroyed this country. They are a small and cowardly but treacherous lot peddling their hate campaign from the safety of distance and anonymity of cyber space. In their treachery they get support from, or are instigated by, outsiders for whom an African country, like Rwanda, rising from the ashes and successfully rebuilding is anathema. And so the Judi Revers, Michela Wrongs, Jeffrey Smiths and Kenneth Roths of this world are only too happy to oblige and help stoke the fire of hate. The evil that was the genocide against the Tutsi has not disappeared. AERG is a reminder of that evil and the danger it harbours when it becomes the basis of a political ideology. But more importantly, it is a testament to the bravery and tenacity of Rwandans to refuse to disappear but stubbornly assert their right to exist and even prosper. In many ways the story of AERG mirrors that of Rwanda. Rwanda too defied destruction and attempts to make it disappear or to become subservient as some had wished, indeed charted such a path. It has been resolute in trying to give its people a life they deserve. It is determined to break with its bad past and instead looks to the future and to build a country for all Rwandans where life is sacrosanct. Against all odds and expectations, this has by and large been achieved. Rwanda has looked within to find answers to its many challenges and rebuilt itself to an enviable level. The story of AERG is similar. This has been the Rwandan spirit. The young people of AERG embody that spirit: never to give up, never to succumb to despondency, always strong and unbreakable. That spirit lives on. The views expressed in this article are of the writer.