First Lady joins Rwandans in Walk to Remember, Night Vigil

The First Lady, Jeannette Kagame together with thousands of Rwandans mostly youth, government officials, diplomats, Civil Society and friends of Rwanda yesterday took part in this year's walk to remember, an annual procession from Parliament to Amahoro stadium in remembrance of over a million lives lost during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

Amahoro stadium was filled to capacity as mourners came together from different parts of the country to pay tribute to the Genocide victims in the night vigil.

This was the ninth edition of the annual walk to remember which was started by high school students under the Peace and Love Proclaimers (PLP) initiative.

At the stadium, 100 names of the Genocide victims were read by the youth from PLP; among the names read include 30 for children, 40 for the youth and 30 for adults who lost their lives during the Genocide.

24 messages of hope, remembrance and unity were also shared by the youth.

Genocide Survivor, Assoumpta Numukobwa from Nyarugenge, in Kigali  was a student at the University of Rwanda’s College of Arts and Social Sciences.

On 19th April 1994, when former Prefet of Butare Jean Baptiste Habyarima was killed, that's when the killings begun at the University, she said. Assoumpta survived a number of attempted massacres but lost a brother.

"I returned to Kigali in June (1994) and found my parents and siblings had been saved by RPF Inkotanyi. After the Genocide I promised myself to work hard and fill the void that had been left in the family by my brother's passing," She said.

Isidore Kayiranga, a resident of  Karongi district also narrated how he managed to save three children from family friends despite the risks of persecution from the Interahamwe militias and killers whom he knew.

"I knew I was risking a lot since any Hutu caught helping a Tutsi, would be forgiven only if they accepted to kill the same person they were hiding," He said.

Nonetheless, Kayiranga took in 6 children from his neighbours and a family friend.

When the RPF liberated the country, Kayiranga fled with many other Rwandans to the Democratic Republic of Congo. The three children also survived and were reunited with Kayiranga when he returned to Rwanda.

"My message to all Rwandans," Kayiranga said, "let's stay together and united as one and rebuild our nation and fight anything that might take us back to what happened in the genocide."

Sports and Culture Minister, Julienne Uwacu paid tribute to both Numukobwa and Kayiranga for braving tough times and coming out strong.

"As we remember our loved ones, may we not be brought down by despair but take courage from our past to build a country we are proud to live in." Uwacu said.

Prof Jean Pierre Dusingizemungu, Chairperson of Ibuka, the Umbrella organisation for Genocide survivors commended the government's social protection initiatives that have seen hundreds of thousands of Genocide survivors, orphans and widows have a better life.

"Houses have been built for the widows and the most vulnerable survivors and the government continues to pay school fees for the orphans. We thank the government for the support," Dusingizemungu said.

He called on the government to put more efforts in fighting Genocide denial and ideology especially in the international community. It is important that everyone understands the impact of Genocide and how dangerous it is and ensure it never happens again."


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