Rwandans and friends of Rwanda across the globe today started a weeklong commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, 22 years after the tragedy.
The events to commemorate the genocide took place in every village (umudugudu) in the country, with people meeting to hear stories of how the genocide was organised and perpetrated, killing more than a million Rwandans in only 100 days in 1994.
In the capital Kigali, President Paul Kagame and First lady Jeannette Kagame as well as visiting Tanzanian President Dr John Pombe Magufuli and his wife Janeth Magufuli joined the country’s top officials, members of the diplomatic corps, friends of Rwanda from abroad, other dignitaries and genocide survivors at Kigali Genocide Memorial in Gisozi in an event to commemorate the genocide.
Presidents Kagame and Magufuli and both first ladies laid a wreath at the memorial in honour of over one million Genocide victims and then the presidents also lit the Flame of Remembrance which will burn for 100 days during the mourning period and symbolises the courage and resilience of Rwandans after the Genocide.
At the commemoration event to begin the mourning week in Gisozi, the Executive Secretary of the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide, Dr Jean Damascène Bizimana, said that the genocide was a result of a genocide ideology that was nurtured in Rwanda and called on Rwandans and the entire world to join hands in fighting both the ideology and genocide denial.
“Genocide can’t happen anywhere in the world without the existence of a genocide ideology,” Bizimana said, also emphasising that the fight against the ideology everywhere in the world has to be everyone’s role if it is to be eradicated.
Kigali Genocide Memorial, where more than 500 guests gathered today for the ceremony to mark the beginning of the national commemoration week, is the final resting place for more than 250,000 victims of the Genocide.
Genocide survivors, relatives and friends of victims, global tourists and researchers among other people visit the memorial every year to remember their loved ones and get a better understanding of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
This year’s commemoration of the genocide in Rwanda is taking place under the theme of “fighting genocide ideology”, which experts say is crucial for promoting unity among Rwandans and preventing genocide from happening again anywhere in the world.