HUYE – Flags flew at half mast and businesses remained closed nationwide as Rwandans began the 16th commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi that claimed over a million people.
At the stroke of mid-day, a minute of silence was observed like elsewhere countrywide to honour the victims of the tragedy.
In Huye district, hundreds of residents of Ngoma Sector held a walk of remembrance from the town centre to the Sector’s Genocide memorial site where they laid wreaths and prayed for the souls of those who perished during the Genocide.
Commemoration activities continued at Huye Football Stadium where local government officials and the representative of the association of Genocide survivors in the district, delivered messages of hope and encouragement.
Edward Kabarega, the representative of Genocide survivors in the district, said that the commemoration period is important because it reminds Rwandans of the 100 days of pain and death the Tutsi had to endure in 1994.
“This is an important time to remember, to grieve for those we lost during the Genocide. It is a time to accord those who were killed in the crudest of ways, the respect that they were denied by their killers,” Kabalega said.
He urged survivors to remain strong and to focus more on rebuilding their lives, adding that a lot has been achieved, especially in helping survivors lead normal lives, but cited poverty as a major challenge that was faced by many survivors. He called upon the general public to reach out to those in need.
“Real commemoration is reaching out to the orphans and widows. We need to show them love and get to know the challenges that they face in their lives,” he said.
Kabalega said that the 100 days of commemoration is a time to address the problem of trauma and find solutions as a community. He paid tribute to the then Rwanda Patriotic Army for stopping the Genocide and the continued efforts by Government to help vulnerable Genocide survivors.
“Government has done a lot to help vulnerable Genocide survivors to lead better lives, many have been given houses but many more still remain poor, we call for more support in this area,” Kabalega said.
The district Mayor, Francois Uhagaze, said that the whole country lost as a result of the Genocide and that now is time to plan for a better future.
He called upon residents to be on the watch-out for divisive politicians who seek to derail them from the development path that they have embarked on.