This day, twenty-four years ago, this land was already awash with the blood of close to sixty thousand victims, if not more.
Yet these were only the first six days. At the end of the ninety-day genocide, the final count of this hollering, horrendous butchering orgy, whose ferocity had never before been witnessed anywhere on this earth, would be in excess of one million innocent citizens.
Yes, in excess of one million and counting.
“Counting” because, to this day, remains of the victims of this horror who have not been accounted for are being discovered in hitherto unknown places. If therefore today the precise number of those identified is 1.3 million, tomorrow it may be 1.5 million.
And that’s not considering those without surviving relatives, or willing neighbours, to report them. Which means some remains will never be discovered because some may have been washed away in rivers, therein to feed amphibian animals.
Others may have been thrown into abyssal chasms like Urwobo rwa Bayanga (a reportedly bottomless pit that’s so mysterious that no one has dared explore it), a few kilometres south east of Kigali.
So, dear reader, if the flood of stories on this topic are getting on your nerves, bear with Rwandans. You surely can’t blame them for screaming out loud when gripped in the trauma of this abhorrence every time this period of remembrance comes round.
For, as many of them have said, every time one remembers, the goriness of it all rocks your whole being as brutishly as it did those targeted, all those 24 years ago.
Fresh and raw as the memory remains then, imagine how it galls your gut when you hear some people uncaringly bandying around incorrect numbers of the victims of that evil. Or see some refusing to recognise the horror by its correct, albeit ugly, name.
If Rwandans have faced the reality of the magnitude of this abomination, what’s it about the Genocide against the Tutsi that the world cannot come to terms with?
Why is it easier for some to put the victim count at a disparaging “more than five hundred” rather than the nearer estimate of “more than one million”? Why is it easier to call the revulsion “the Tutsi Genocide” or “the Rwandan Genocide” as if victim turned against victim in a self-immolation paradox?
Isn’t that an effort to deny, negate or belittle the genocide?
Those in the world who are sworn to “Never Again”, and yet at the same time are intentionally distorting facts about it and jealously shielding its perpetrators from justice, how double faced can they be?
Maybe, like the horde of these fugitives and their sympathisers out there, they would like to see a consummation of the shame today.
I remember such a Rwandan belittler of this evil, then in the top ranks of a new government that was trying to pull this country out of that genocide pit, cynically wondering how people were still grieving four months after the brutality!
A mere four months and the heartless aged loafer, currently based in Brussels, was wondering how those who lost their loved ones were still grieving!
But whatever his thoughts then and now, in his freezing fleabag of a residence, I know now he has begun to get the sense of “Remember. Unite. Renew” after observing the galloping growth the country that he abused is registering.
So is it with the callous denial-and-negation world out there. To them all, President Kagame has a curt and concise answer: “Rwanda is changed for good and forever.”
For information, “Remember. Unite. Renew” is the theme for this year’s genocide commemoration.
Which means that every time Rwandans remember that deep, dark hole to which they were consigned by their traitorous own, actively supported by some superpowers, they find in themselves the power to tighten their bond of unity ever more strongly.
That power is further reinforced when they remember how they pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps.
And it’s by their own bootstraps that they will continue to heave themselves up, always renewing their effort on the way, to build themselves into a society that will be counted among top dignified societies of the world. And that will not be the end of the road, no. Envisioned is a healthy, wealthy society. Nothing less.
But even there, they will know they cannot let their guard down. One such careless complacency, however minor, and the sharks….sorry, sharks, you are not so satanic!....I meant to say the génocidaires and their sympathisers, local struggler or superpower, will pounce. It’s no secret that that they are lying in wait.
However, seeing that guard down will remain a pipedream for our diabolical desperados.
This day as we talk, the land they manipulated at will exists no longer.
Today, to revisit the quote, “Rwanda is changed for good and forever.”
The views expressed in this article are of the author