On Thursday 11th/04/2019, the staff of Cogebanque and partners joined the rest of the world by holding talks to commemorate over a million Tutsis that were killed during the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi.
The ceremony to commemorating the killings of Tutsis in 1994 took place on the eighth floor at the bank’s headquarters begun at 3pm and ushers in week of remembrance, 100 days of national mourning.
On the 7th of April, Rwanda began 100 days of mourning to commemorate the 25th anniversary of a genocide that tore the l country apart and left over a million people dead.
After observing a moment of silence the staff members had an opening prayer that was preceded with testimonies from Genocide survivors and listened to songs performed by a renowned artist Innocent Rwema that talked of the horrors of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi.
While officiating over the commemoration talks, the head of HR at CogebanqueBoscoRwerinyange called upon those present to not only remember names but to remember the victims that lost their lives during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
He recalled that many people had lost their loved ones, brothers, sisters, wives, husbands, fathers and mothers, yet they had to move on and build the country that had suffered a serious blow.
“Cogebanque was established by people that survived the horrors of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi who decided to come together in 1999 and establish a bank to help in the development of the country. It is this strong will to move on that has helped Rwanda to be where it is today” said Rwerinyange.
He explained that the whole of Rwanda was dealt a big setback in 1994 and in several other similar and equally destructive events like the 1959, 1973, and 1983 manslaughters which targeted to annihilate the Tutsi segment of the population.
Thus Mary Ashimwe, the Director of HR and administration noted during the talks are in efforts to join the bank’s efforts in the fight against genocide denial, trivialization and revisionism, which have been characteristic of many guilty parties who either are haunted by their roles in the bedlam or their failure to make any efforts at stopping it.
“We are here mainly to express the Rwandan solidarity against genocide deniers and negators who continue to afflict pain on us through their efforts to trivialize and revise the genocide. We have to be strong and united in order to build our country and to make sure that the genocide never happens again. We can collectively say that though many people tried to put us down, we survived and together we shall build our country. I strongly thank the government and RPF for the good leadership and for liberating our country and making sure that the country is on the right path” said Ashimwe
Kwizera’s sad testimony
While giving his testimony, Samuel Kwizera, an employee of Cogebanque working in the accounts department who survived the horrors of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi said he recalls the night mare like it was yesterday.
I was very young at the time. Only six years and what we went through with my siblings trying to stay alive through hunger and despair is something hard to forget.
Mr. Kwizera recalled, “It is 25 years after the Genocide and I thank God that I survived in spite of the many relatives I lost. It is still not easy to live with the after math of it but the history of what happened in Kibungo is still fresh on my mind. I still remember our family before the Genocide and believe me we were a happy family of ten children. My dad was a teacher and loved us dearly” said Kwizera.
With a shaking voice and tears in his eyes, Kwizera tells of how the Intarahamwe invaded their home and how his father fought to see that they stay alive by asking favors from neighbors.
“On that fateful day after the killings had taken about three days, we were trying to access a school where dad used to teach, we hardly made it but we were apprehended by a group of Intarahamwe and my father promised to pay for our safety with money. He was taken away and later we saw him return for us after paying them off” recalls Kwizera.
A lot happened after that and many of them died during the time. Kwizera’s pain however is escalated by the fact that after the genocide, he never set eyes on his mother, father and many of his relatives. All he has left to console himself with arethe memories, which he says reminds him so much of the love that his family had.
Miss Rwanda’s call to the youth
In her speech during the commemoration, Miss Rwanda 2019 Meghan Nimwiza called upon the youth to play a big role in the building of their nation saying that they played a big role in the Genocide and it is high time they concentrated on rebuilding what was lost.
“It is time for the youth to use their resourceful energy to rebuild our country. As youth, we should refrain from using the social media as a tool to hurt others in these trying times and concentrate on developing our beloved country” said Nimwiza.
Previous Kwibuka engagements
In 2018, Cogebanque Staff and partners paid their respects to more than a million victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi at Nyanza Memorial Center located in Kicukiro district.
The event started with a walk to remember from IPRC Kigali former ETO Kicukiro to Nyanza Genocide Memorial. Cogebanque Staff laid wreaths on the burial place where more than four thousand victims of the Genocide are laid to rest and observed a minute of silence in their honour.
Jean De DieuKayiranga, a survivor of the Genocide shared his testimony that narrates the difficult journey he has gone through together with many other people who were at Nyanza.
In his words, Kayiranga explained how the Genocide ideology and discrimination had an impact on him from the young age.
Staff of Cogebanque and partners travelled to Bugesera District to visit the Nyamata and Ntarama Genocide Memorial sites as part of the 24th commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi last year. Later, the bank’s staff held a night vigil at the Kigali Memorial site.
The delegation visiting Nyamata and Ntarama memorials consisted of board members, employees and stakeholders of the bank, as well as representatives from the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG) and the then Miss Rwanda, Liliane Iradukunda.
Cogebanque’s commemoration continued with a night vigil at Kigali Memorial during which Jean Dusabeyezu, a survivor of the Genocide, shared his testimony.