Thousands of Rwandans, diplomats and friends of Rwanda converged at the Parliamentary Building on Friday evening for the annual ‘Walk To Remember’ that saw them walk to the Amahoro National Stadium for the commemoration vigil.
“Walk to Remember” was conceived In 2009 by the members of Peace and Love Proclaimers (PLP) to empower the youth of Rwanda and around the world to take a stand against Genocide. By using the walk as a platform to educate the youth about genocide, PLP uses knowledge as a means for prevention.
The walk, which is in its ninth year, is a silent reminder of what needs to be done to avoid the re-occurrence of the Genocide which resonates with this year’s theme; “Remember the Genocide against the Tutsi – Fight Genocide Ideology – Build on Our Progress”.
The commemoration walk has not only taken root in Rwanda but also across the globe, with the youth being the majority participants.
In 2010, the walk remembered victims of all genocides and was used as a platform for youth from different countries to learn from the lessons of the Genocide against the Tutsi. Young leaders in Rwanda were connected with their peers in different countries around the world – particularly within the East African Community.
Marc Gwamaka, one of the founders of ‘Walk to Remember’ says that the success of the walk is a clear indication of the abilities of the youth and what they can achieve if they focus on something.
“This is a clear indication that whatever youths are determined to achieve is possible. It is important that the youth also equip themselves with the knowledge and information so that they can help others,” he said.
Sunday Times spoke to various people who took part in the ‘Walk to Remember’ and they revealed why it’s important and their wish for Rwandans during this period.
Aimable Niyibishaka; 20
This is the first time I am participating in the Walk To Remember. I did not lose anyone in the Genocide against Tutsis but I have been hearing about the walk for long and I decided that this year, I must join in support of all those who lost their lives and the survivors. I travelled all the way from Nyagatare purposely for this. I think we should support the survivors even more and to all those still harboring genocide ideology, my advice is that the time to change is now, after all, there is nothing to benefit from that attitude.
Annie Uwase; 24
The Walk To Remember used to happen when I had work or was away, but I was lucky that this time, I was free to participate. This walk is important to me because it’s also my way of remembering most of my family who were killed during the 1994 Genocide against Tutsis. I am at this walk with my five German friends who were curious to learn more about Rwanda and its history. On this day, I tell survivors that we should always come together and talk about what happened, not only during this period but also other days. We should also be grateful about how far we have come and strive to even be and do better.
Sage Mchugh, American
This is my first time in Rwanda, I arrived last night. I am here for about a week and I found out about the Walk To Remember on the internet. I met two people at the hotel and we came here together to show our solidarity with the people. My message to Rwandans and the rest of the world today is to value unity, to recognize how divisions can create such hatred and violence and to see that Genocide never happens again.
Fils Kwizera, 24
I have been attending the Walk To Remember for 12 years now. I have learnt so much from participating in the walk; for instance, I have a better understanding of our history, how to identify and fight genocide ideology and many others. Every year, I also participate in remembrance of my father, my young sister and my maternal uncles. My message to Rwandans is that we should work hard and hand in hand to develop our country and to root out genocide ideology.
This is the third time that I am participating in ‘Walk to Remember’ and I come here because I feel it is something that I must do as a Rwandan and as someone who is part of this community. I call upon my fellow countrymen to be strong and fight any ideologies that can take us back from what happened in the past.