Rwandans and friends of Rwanda will today start weeklong activities to remember the Genocide against the Tutsi, 23 years after the tragedy claimed over a million lives in 100 days.
The events to commemorate the Genocide will take place in every village (Umudugudu). People will meet to hear stories of how the Genocide was perpetrated and how they can work together to sustain the country’s recovery and gains.
This year’s commemoration will be marked under the theme: “Remember the Genocide against the Tutsi - Fight Genocide Ideology - Build on Our Progress”.
The Executive Secretary of the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG), Dr Jean Damascène Bizimana, told The New Times that thousands of opinion leaders across the country have been trained to lead discussions around the theme during the remembrance week.
“What the country has achieved so far has to be supported by every Rwandan and fighting the genocide ideology and supporting good governance remain the best way forward,” he said in an interview on Wednesday.
In the capital Kigali, President Paul Kagame will launch the commemoration week today at Kigali Genocide Memorial in Gisozi, where he will lay a wreath at the memorial in honour of over the one million Genocide victims.
He will also light the Flame of Remembrance which will burn for 100 days during the mourning period to symbolise the courage and resilience of Rwandans after the Genocide.
Then he will deliver a speech to officials, dignitaries, Rwanda’s guests, and Genocide survivors who will be gathered at the memorial to mark the 23rd anniversary of the Genocide.
Sources from the President’s office also revealed that he is expected to join a walk to remember which will be held in Kigali, bringing together city residents, especially the youth, in an exercise to reflect on the Genocide and how to rebuild the country going forward.
Twenty-three years after the slaughter, Rwanda has managed to recover from its aftermath, with the country’s citizens stitching back together their social bonds and working collectively to rebuild their nation.
International law expert Justine Mbabazi, who wrote a book about Rwanda’s post-Genocide recovery, say that the country is a re-born and purpose-driven nation that has moved way past the dark days of the Genocide.
The third Rwanda Reconciliation Barometer report, released last year by the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC), indicated that 92.5 per cent of Rwandans felt that unity and reconciliation had been achieved and that citizens lived in harmony.
But the report also indicated that 27.9 per cent still viewed themselves through lenses of ethnic groups, while 25 per cent still see divisions and Genocide ideology among their compatriots.
1. It will be commemorated at the village level (Umudugudu)
2. Activities will focus on campaign against Genocide denial as well as supporting Genocide survivors.
3. President Kagame due to light the Flame of Remembrance at Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre, Friday.
4. A Walk to Remember from Parliament to Amahoro stadium scheduled
5. There will be conferences and vigils in honour of the victims for 100 days