Hundreds of Rwandans, diplomats and friends of Rwanda on Tuesday converged at the UN Office in Nairobi (UNON), to commemorate the Genocide against the Tutsi victims killed 25 years ago.
Organised by the Rwandan High Commission in Kenya, the event attracted Rwandans - mainly the youth, diplomats accredited to Nairobi, UN staff and Kenyan officials, among others.
Over 800 people participated in the well attended function.
Minute of Silence.
Among the speakers included Maimunah Mohd Sharif, the Acting Director General UNON and Executive Director UN-Habitat, who delivered a message on behalf of UN Secretary General António Guterres.
In his speech, he reiterated the need to work together to build a harmonious future as this would be the best way to honor those who lost their lives so tragically in Rwanda 25 years ago.
“The capacity for evil resides in all our societies, but so, too, do the qualities of understanding, kindness, justice and reconciliation,” she said.
Kenyan senator, Ledama ole Kina, who was also in attendance, said the fundamental lesson Africa and the entire world can draw from Rwanda’s case is that politics of divisiveness, ethnic hatred and exclusion can manifest in the worst tragic forms.
“Rwanda’s example is a perfect testimony to the fact that political utterances laced with ethnic hatred can result to decimation of ethnic groups and even humanity,” Ledama said.
In his remarks, Rwandan High Commissioner to Kenya, Dr Richard Masozera thanked those who attended, saying it was a statement and a declaration to the world that they stood with Rwanda.
Masozera said the genocide against the Tutsi was the outcome of a long history of discrimination and deliberate denial of rights of a section of Rwandan society.
Diplomats following the proceedings
To overcome this legacy, Masozera emphasized that the country's leadership under President Paul Kagame made difficult but deliberate decisions which included among other initiatives the promotion of unity and reconciliation; the abolition of discriminatory policies including national identity cards; integrating members of the former army into the new national army.
All these, he said, aimed at building a cohesive society, as one of the tools to ensure what happened does not ever occur again.
The envoy called upon the Rwandan youths, who are majority of the population, to participate in shaping a peaceful nation and sustain its recovery.
Ambassador Ben Ogutu, who represented the Kenyan Government conveyed the solidarity of his country's leadership and that of its people on the solemn occasion.
He said, “Rwanda’s progress has truly been inspirational. She has risen from the ashes of the genocide and forged a new path of reconciliation, peace, stability and economic recovery”.
He said that as a close friend and sister country, Kenya takes pride in the great strides that Rwanda has made, which have provided vast opportunities for the consolidation of the bilateral relations and regional integration.
The morning segment of the programme included a poem by Muhoza Natasha, a student at Strathmore University and laying of a wreath in honour of the over one million victims of the Genocide against the Tutsi.
After the morning session, university students attended a symposium in which they engaged, in an interactive session, with the High Commissioner and Dr Abdul Lamin of UNESCO.