NYAMAGABE - The Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), Dr William F. Shija, on Saturday visited Murambi genocide memorial site in Nyamagabe district, to pay tribute to victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Together with his executive assistant and the Commonwealth Secretary for Africa Region, Shija, was joined by the Rwandan Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Jean-Damascene Ntawukuriryayo, Senator Seth Safari and local leaders in Nyamagabe district.
The delegation toured different parts of the memorial site and local leaders explained to them how the many lives perished during the Genocide.
The Mayor of Nyamagabe district, Alphonse Munyentwari told the delegation that the Genocide occurred because of the planning by the authorities at the time.
“We had identity cards with ethnic groups and surprisingly, we know that we have no ethnics in Rwanda; Hutu and Tutsi were like economic classes and one would easily move from one category to another,” Munyentwari told the delegation.
“I remember when we entered school for the first time, the first thing we were asked was our ethnic groups; whether we were Hutu or Tutsi.”
The Mayor narrated how the Tutsi were hunted from the first republic in 1959 until they were massively butchered in 1994.
After touring the memorial site, Dr. Shija expressed sorrow for what happened in Rwanda, referring to it as unthinkable and unbelievable.
“I and my colleagues wish to express our very sorry feelings about what happened in 1994. What happened is not a scar for Rwanda only but for the whole of Africa,” he said.
Dr Shija, a Tanzanian, also spoke in Swahili, advising Rwandans to keep fostering their unity, in order to build a better future.
He urged Rwandans and Africans in general to go beyond small differences and build a unified continent.
“Poleni sana. Now we as Africans have to move into the new and painless Africa we deserve,” he wrote in the guests’ book.
He said that what happened in Rwanda should serve as a lesson for the whole continent.
“Africa went through many tribulations. The pain is enough,” Dr Shija said. “Let us stop causing pain to our continent, it is enough.”
The Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Ntawukuriryayo asked the visitors to tell the world the real truth about the genocide.
“We request you to be our ambassador and tell the truth you saw to those who still deny the existence of the genocide against Tutsi,” he said.
50 000 Tutsi who sought refuge at Murambi during the genocide were butchered by Interahamwe militias in no more than three days. Later, Dr Shija and his delegation visited community development initiatives in Nzega cell, Gasaka sector in Nyamagabe district.
They visited a 112 hectares consolidated lands where residents grow coffee as part of the ‘One village, One product” program, an initiative by the district local authorities aimed at raising residents’ production.
The plantation was selected by the government as a pilot that should be applied in the whole nation, local leaders revealed.