This week, we mark 24 AG (After Genocide). In a post-genocide world, there can only be a before, and after genocide. You see, for survivors, the world - as they knew it - ended as Rwanda descended into the abyss, a bone-littered desolate land.
For them, 1994 was the culmination of an endless nightmare that began in 1959.
In 1994, Rwandans saw the face of evil, and believe you me, it has no saving graces. When the killings began in 1959, 1963, the World did not join Jean-Paul Sartre in calling them what they were - genocide.
Today, there should be no room for the deniers and revisionists who will not call the abomination of desolation that 1994 Rwanda became, a land, a political class committed to genocide against the Tutsi in the country.
Remembrance is imperative. Those that commit a genocide do not only dehumanize, they have as their aim, the wiping of the target group from our collective memory. As RTLM, that medium of venom and hate proclaimed to all and sundry, the architects of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi intended that children, perhaps in their history classes, would one day ask what Tutsi looked like!
Today, we remember the victims of genocide, the perpetrators are in jail. Every year, we go back to the beginning. When President Kagame lights the flame of hope, he embodies the pain, as well as the determination of millions of Rwandans, determined to remember, to renew, and to rebuild.
That flame is an affirmation that the face of humanity, with its imperfections, must never be sacrificed at the altar of conformity, division and extremism.
Remembrance is a commemoration, an obligation, a celebration of humanity, and an affirmation of the sanctity of human life.
But it poses an undeniable moral dilemma. Is it not, perhaps better to remember in silence, contemplating the unfathomable cruelty and evil of the human heart? Reflecting on the need to individually and collectively purge the “wolf” in us? For as we know, homo homini lupus?
Or, should we, as the biblical Job did, cry out that the blood of the innocent dead should continuously sear the memory of the living?
One thing is clear. Remembering the victims of a genocide is not merely a Rwandan obligation. It is imperative for humanity. If we all are made in the image of God, those who intend to exterminate a group of people desecrate that image. They attempt to kill God. Genocide is Deicide!
For Rwanda, 1994 was a national nightmare. Today, it is a dream come true. After death, the resurrection. Not as zombies, but as a truly reborn humanity, rising from the ashes of yesteryear, sphinx-like. The blood of the dead spurring millions of citizens to build a future of shared prosperity cemented in Unity.
Rwandans do not simply remember death, they commemorate the lives of the departed! They celebrate victory over evil and affirm that humanity and dignity is our common heritage.
They remember the genocide against the Tutsi with their eyes firmly fixed on the future. At this time, in this land, they look back with pain and invest in the future with grit and determination. This journey of commemoration, of life after death requires no less.
It is a journey in which moral equivalence has no space.