Rwandans today begin the national week of mourning, during which several activities in the country and beyond have been organised to honour the over one million victims of the Genocide against the Tutsi. The New Times’ Jean d’Amour Mbonyinshuti and Regis Umurengezi spoke to different Rwandans to reflect on the journey over the last 23 years, and what should be done to sustain the gains made.
Rahamat Umuhoza, 21, student, from Kicukiro District
‘The Genocide affected all Rwandans in various ways but what is amazing is that we have made great strides toward reconciliation. Perpetrators are seeking out families of their victims to apologise while survivors are forgiving. That said, efforts should be put into fighting genocide ideology and this should start from families.
Parents should stop misleading their children on the Genocide as it is happening in some families. The show of unity we see in the open should be mirrored in our families so that we raise a generation free of toxic ideology.’
Jean Harelimana, from Cyeru Sector, Burera District
‘After 23 years, the development we have is evident for everyone. Modern buildings are coming up in every corner of our country, the poor are getting cows and these have come with enormous economic benefits.
Tiristan Murenzi, 20, university student
‘It is beyond understanding how the curse befell Rwandans, especially for us who were born after the Genocide against the Tutsi. However, there is great hope for a better future given the current achievements and strides made in the country. Rwandans are enjoying peace and stability, education is inclusive and everyone has access.
That said, effects of the Genocide are still felt and its ideology and denial are ripe. Dealing with these require efforts of everyone; those in leadership, ordinary citizens, the young and old…and the fight should go beyond our borders because most deniers live outside the country.’
Annociata Nyiramajyambere, 64 , a farmer in Burera District
‘We are today enjoying a remarkable progress in our district after 23 years; we have modern roads, feeder roads, we have electricity in our home and our children have been granted with free access to education.
None of these things would have been provided by the previous government and we are thankful to our government.’
Cleophas Ahishakiye, works with a solar energy company in Gakenke District
‘Post-Genocide, we have made considerable progress in various domains in social and economic spheres. Infrastructure is booming and technology is advancing.
To stain this growth, we must make sure that we have turned the page and that we do not go back and this can only be done if we are mindful of our past. I think Genocide lessons should be taught in schools from primary to university.’
Immaculée Mukankubito, a mother of three, works for a local NGO
‘Rwanda has registered enormous progress in the 23 years after the Genocide against the Tutsi, from a country devastated by the massacres and the insurgencies that followed shortly after. We have a country whose security is greatly admired by foreigners.
We are now on the journey of fighting genocide ideology and this will require a lot of effort. First, it requires inculcating core values among Rwandans, especially the youth, and to nurture them into critical thinkers to avoid manipulation. There is also need to implement to the letter the laws criminalising acts of denying and trivialising the Genocide.’
Samantha Umuhumuriza Usanase, Secretary
‘The post-Genocide government has offered education to all, restored and greatly expanded infrastructure that had been destroyed and strengthened security.
However, what I consider the most and biggest achievement is reuniting Rwandans. In real sense, this is what we need if we are to reach the desired destination in terms of development.
As the youth, we must take the lead in fighting genocide ideology, our fellow youth misused their strength to destroy the country and it is up to us to fight everything that can turn us back towards that direction and the genocide ideology is critical. Let us use the platforms availed to us like social media to fight it. We have unity clubs in our schools; all these can be used to combat it.’
Ismael Mugiraneza, 32, from Muhoza Sector, Musanze District
‘What I am happy for after 23 years is that there is no more ethnic divisions in our country. I may attribute this to the remarkable progress that our country has made. The Government should come up with a plan to eradicate genocide ideology that we always see on social media to ensure that users are not polluted.’