In the immediate aftermath of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, there were conflicting reports in the media and international organizations on the number of people killed.
It started with “about 300,000” went on to half a million and is now stuck at the 800,000 mark. Estimating what is an “acceptable” figure to the international community and disregarding official government figure arrived at through a census is nothing but another form of denial.
Maybe by reducing the figure and keeping it under the not-so-magical figure of “million” gives them the false sense that it will also reduce their guilt. The official figure is known; 1.678,672, so, by adopting only half of it, something is wrong somewhere.
But for Rwandans, figures matter, and the correct ones at that.
During one of the many commemorative events to mark the 22nd anniversary of the Genocide, there was an exclusive ceremony to remember families that were wiped out entirely in the Northern Province. 461 families were read out, wiped from the face of the earth. And that was just a fraction.
During these trying times, people remember and honour their dead, but those families have no one left behind to mourn them.
It warms the heart, therefore, that there is an ongoing country-wide census to identify entire families that left no offspring. So, identifying those families and putting faces and names to the figures is very important as they will never disappear from our memories.
May 15 is International Day of Families and they too deserve to be remembered then, not only during the 100-day mourning period.