The week of remembrance of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi that began yesterday reminds us of the triumph of virtue and resilience over the forces of evil and nemesis. During the month of April, Rwanda gets into a somber mood of commemorating the dark days that engulfed the country in 1994, which brought immeasurable anguish to our people. There were no clouds of incense hovering above our famous thousand hills. We were left in pain, tormented and degenerated, and it all happened in full glare of the whole world.
The Genocide devastated the economy and not only did it lead to the destruction of human life, it also led to the destruction of property and the psyche for any productive activity in the country. It tore everything apart that nothing was left for any economic or social development.
The perpetrators of that heinous crime fled to different parts of the universe. They left Rwanda on the verge of extinction and believing that there would be no future for our people. Ironically, they got their asylum wishes granted and their host authorities buried their heads in the sand as if nothing had happened. Rwandans wondered why these brutal fellows were received without their hosts raising an alarm for their incarceration.
Even when the country embarked on pursuing the same Genocide fugitives, there was no serious commitment to this cause from those hosting the suspects. Undeniably, one would say that the Rwandan story openly demonstrated the skewed and inclined nature of the so-called international system. Most of the world stood on during the 1994 Genocide.
Despite all these, the hope and journey to rebuild Rwanda was set forth. The very first salute was to our gallant soldiers who overturned what had been thought to be impossible – thanks to the late and living heroes. They fought a noble battle and restored a life in a nation that was almost falling completely apart. They had the country’s interest ahead of theirs, sacrificing for the sake of generations to come.
The indispensable culture of unity and the indomitable spirit of reconciliation amongst our people overrode the evil seeds of hatred and profiling, which had been planted by those wicked individuals for their dreadful gains.
Rwanda wiped her tears and rose from the ashes of the Genocide to find its new path out of the sorrowful jungle.
The new establishment that took charge ensured that the Rwandan people fully regained a collective sense of identity and ownership of their beloved nation. The authorities embarked on a roadmap to ensure equal rights for every citizen, and those who had previously been marginalized for many years afforded a smile.
The Government entrenched a decentralized system of rendering reconciliatory and participatory justice. It reviewed, modernized and created a new system capable of fighting all forms of injustice. The whole justice sector was re-organized and complemented by alternative dispute mechanisms at the grassroots level, the famous Gacaca ensured those who abetted genocide were brought to book and tried at the community level.
It was a journey that called for everyone’s effort, right from every small village to towns and City of Kigali. We once again created a community that is united and guided by mutual understanding of the past. We were then able to work together for the prosperity of our country. The ‘baby’ (Rwanda) had to begin from crawling to walking upright. It was certain that one day the rest of the world would hear the country’s name and be inspired and awed by our story.
Indeed, Rwanda is currently a nation known to be driven by a culture of homegrown initiative and entrepreneurship, a vibrant private sector, and productive interaction with the world. Rwanda has become a champion of homegrown solutions and earned international acclaim and accolades for this approach.
These accomplishments are extraordinary given that we began from a complete economic, social and political melting point. We resorted to positive and all-inclusive transformational schemas without pointing fingers. Our able leaders have always given credit to the citizens, but still without them perhaps we would not have achieved this much.
Commemorating this history is very significant in every Rwandan life. Let our children learn and carry forward this undefeated spirit of patriotism. They should find meaning and the purpose for setting aside this time of the year for memorials. It is and will never be in vain following what this country went through and how it has come to miraculously turn the tables.
It is not futile to reflect on the memory of the Genocide. We should educate our young generation so they understand the impact of its tragic effects. By remembering, we acknowledge the severe consequences of the Genocide, commit to prevent the spread of genocide ideology and work towards building a stronger, peaceful and safe nation.