What was an Easter Weekend across the world 23 years ago, was a rampage of merciless massacres in Rwanda targeting the Tutsi, a tragedy that wiped out over a million people.
The 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi remains the fastest Genocide in history with an estimated 10,000 people being killed every single day.
According to clerics across the country, this unforgettable fate has understandably created bitterness and sort of hopelessness in some Rwandans, especially survivors of the Genocide, hence calling for tolerance and total forgivingness if Rwanda is to reconcile and reform itself as a united society.
The Anglican Bishop of Butare Diocese, Nathan K. Gasatura, told Sunday Times that indeed Rwanda “died” during the Genocide but as Christians mark the death and resurrection of Jesus over 2000 years ago—this should serve as a opportunity for people to seek redemption from any kind of bitterness that could be left in people’s hearts as the country continus to forge lasting unity and reconciliation.
“A lot of blood was shed in this country. But the same God who resurrected Jesus from the tomb three days later is resurrecting Rwanda from the rages of hatred, hopelessness and bitterness that were brought by the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi,” Bishop Gasatura said.
“May we continue to find hope in the sacrifice of our God—who sent his Son Jesus Christ to pour his sacrificial blood and die for the sinners—so that we continue to foster peace, unity and reconciliation among us. Where we are not and where we wish to go as a nation, only unity and working together as Rwandans can take us thus far,” he added.
Easter is the celebration of Christ's resurrection from the dead. Though some Christians churches celebrate it in various ways, the “Holy Week” as it is widely known, is celebrated on Sunday, and marks the end of Lent, especially among the Catholic faithful.
The head of the Episcopal Conference of Catholic Bishops of Rwanda, Philippe Rukamba, said Jesus’ resurrection marks the triumph of good over evil, sin and death.
Rukamba noted that even as Rwandans mark Easter, amid the Genocide commemoration period, this should be an indication that the bad times have passed and the country beholds a new beginning of forgiveness and repentance.
“Tonight we will celebrate Easter. The special message is that this season reminds us to forgive and let go of any bitterness, any evil and live in harmony. As for Rwandans, this is the time to try once more to defeat the evil, to confess the evil and seek renewal since we will offer time for penitence,” Rukamba told Sunday Times.
Amos Kajuga, the executive pastor at Christian Life Assembly, Nyarutarama, said Easter weekend should be a time Rwanda embraces forgiveness and declare “Never Again:.
“May this Easter be a gift in which the risen Jesus offers to everyone of us,” Kajuga said.
He added that, “As a nation of Rwandans, the resurrection power should bring hope to Genocide survivors and help us all to embrace love, forgiveness and reconciliation”.