Senate President Bernard Makuza has said that in Rwanda today, significant gains have been made toward unity and reconciliation, so much so that there is increasingly more activities countrywide showcasing this unity.
Makuza was addressing residents of Karama Sector in Huye District, on Saturday, during an event to mark the ninth edition of the Unity and Reconciliation Week.
He cited an example of the “Ubutwari Bwokubaho” association, which brings together survivors and perpetrators of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, saying besides fostering reconciliation, the association has gone on to economically empower the members.
The association loosely translated as “courage to survive” was formed in 1995, a few months after the Genocide and it currently has 1,300 members, most of whom are Genocide widows and wives of the Genocide convicts.
The association, located in Gahororo Cell, Karama Sector, has bore forth “Inyange z'ubutwari bwo kubaho,” an association formed by 58 children of Genocide survivors and perpetrators.
“The two associations are some of other several similar associations we have in Rwanda; they represent the fact that we have broken the mirrors of ethnicity to form a united and reconciled society,” Makuza said.
“Unity and reconciliation is not mere politics but a living statement of what we have lived and what we need to continue thriving as Rwandans.”
The event was preceded by a communal work where the Senate president joined district officials and residents of Karama Sector to renovate the house of vulnerable Ancilla Mukakimonyo, a Genocide survivor and cancer patient.
The mother of two girls was admitted to hospital at the time her house was being renovated.
Francoise Mukagatare, president of the “Ubutwari Bwokubaho” association and a Genocide survivor, said that although coming to terms with Genocide perpetrators was difficult in the first place, the community has slowly learnt to embrace unity and reconciliation.
Triphina Mukinagwije, a member of the association and wife of one of the Genocide perpetrators now serving a prison sentence, said when Rwanda Patriotic front (RPF) stopped the Genocide, she fled the area with her family and relocated to former Gikongoro prefecture.
“However, we met RPF soldiers there who asked us to return home; some of us came back while others proceeded to Congo-Zaire,” she said.
Mukinagwije said some of those who returned home initially faced persecution from survivors, “but slowly, the church leaders started challenging survivors to show love and extend forgiveness to us. That’s how we formed this association, and it has done a lot to unite us.”
Makuza said this testimony shows that it is possible to overcome hate.
“We need to keep moving forward, with humility, finding solutions to those remaining we still have amongst us to build lasting peace,” the Senate head said.
Recent published unity and reconciliation barometer scorecard shows that Rwandans have achieved 92.5 per cent of reconciliation rates since the Genocide.