“Tutawakumbuka Daima” (we shall remember them forever).
That was the key message conveyed by a delegation of Tanzanian MPs when they visited the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre in Gisozi yesterday.
The 12 lawmakers, all members of the Tanzanian Parliament Public Accounts Committee (PAC), laid wreaths on the memorial site bearing the inscription, tutawakumbuka daima, Swahili for we shall remember them forever, in reference to those that perished in the Genocide.
After observing a minute of silence, the delegation was led into the main museum, where they explored all its three permanent exhibitions.
Through the exhibitions, the legislators were able to learn about life in pre-colonial Rwanda, the colonial period and how it sowed the early seeds of discord, events preceding the Genocide, and post-Genocide reconciliation efforts.
Emotions ran high when the MPs were ushered into a section named; “Tomorrow Lost” that is dedicated to children killed during the Genocide.
“If there is anything that has got to be obtained at any cost, it is peace. This should be priority number one,” said Selemani Zedi, the PAC chairperson and leader of the delegation.
“I did not know the scale and magnitude of the killings. It is unbelievable and it is something we all can’t afford to go back to,” he added.
Another MP, Nassir Abdallah, said: “The tragedy Rwanda witnessed should never happen anywhere in the world again.”
The legislator expressed amazement at the path the country had since taken, especially in regard to reconstruction of society morals.
“What I have learnt today is that peace and human values work in tandem. In fact, if I could, I would make the whole world Buddhist, where killing even a mosquito is unacceptable,” he said.
On his part, Zedi commended the government and Rwandans’ efforts toward reconciliation.
“I am glad to learn that under the new dispensation, Rwandans are nolonger identified along tribal inclinations. This spirit ought to be emulated by regional countries so that we secure the future of the current and future generations,” Zedi said.
Muhonga Saidi Ruhwanya, another lawmaker, said: “As a leader, all I can say is that we should never tamper with peace, not just in Rwanda, but anywhere. Peaceful means must always take precedent before any other option is considered.”
Ruhwanya recalled how, on her first visit to the Genocide memorial in 2013, she failed to complete the tour due to emotional breakdown.
“I will ask religious leaders back home to come and witness first-hand what happened so that they share the experience with their congregation,” she said, adding that there is need for more people from across Africa to come and witness what happened to draw lessons.
The lawmakers are in the country on a four-day working visit under the auspices of the Auditor General’s office.
“The main reason for our visit is to share experience with our host, the Office of the Auditor General of Rwanda. As PAC, we oversee expenditure of public accounts and we can only do that with the assistance of the Auditor General’s office. Rwanda is doing the same. We came to see how Rwanda’s Public Accounts Committee relates with the Auditor General’s office and share experiences with a view to adopting best practices,” Zedi said.