Hundreds of Kinazi sector residents in Ruhago District yesterday afternoon braved the scorching sun to welcome the Kwibuka Flame, which continues its nationwide tour ahead of the 20th anniversary of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
The residents received the torch amid cheers, acclamation and shouts of joy.
The torch arrived in the rural Kinazi sector from Bwishyura in Karongi District, where it had been since last Thursday.
Ruhango District Mayor Francois Xavier Mbabazi, said during the ceremony that the Flame symbolises hope for a better future and is an indication that the Rwandan spirit has never and will never die.
“This Flame is a sign that the future beholds the best for every one of us. It is the light that will guide us through our journey towards self-reliance,” Mbabazi said.
Kinazi, in the former Ntongwe commune, was the scene of some of the worst massacres during the 1994 Genocide against Tutsis.
Over 60,000 people are believed to have perished in the area and they are set to be given a decent burial at a new, memorial site in the area, according to Mbabazi.
Samuel Dusabiyumva, a survivor, recounted how Interahamwe militias hunted down Tutsis and mercilessly killed thousands of them in what he described as a ‘well studied and well elaborated plan’ to exterminate the Tutsis.
He said plans to exterminate Tutsis were headed by the then Ntongwe Mayor, Charles Kagabo, whom he accused of being very ‘instrumental’ in the killings.
Other survivors have also accused Kagabo of playing a major role in the Genocide.
Dusabiyumva also said some other leaders, including sector and cell leaders were also active during the Genocide in the area.
He said killers in the area were “promised to take the property of Tutsis as a reward for killing us.”
He, however, noted that things became worse when Burundians who were living there as refugees were called in to support local militias in the killings.
“They were heavily armed and fearless,” Dusabiyumva said.
“They (the Burundian refugees)had all it required to get involved. They had fled their country after committing crimes and had been armed by local leaders here who looked at them as having the potential to execute their extermination plan against us,” Dusabiyumva added.
He accused the Burundians of committing ‘unthinkable and unimaginable atrocities’.
“Some of them even ate human flesh,” he said.
“The journey continues”
The Minister of Sports and Culture, Protais Mitali, told residents that the Kwibuka Flame tour is a time to reflect on the achievements registered ever since the Genocide was stopped and look at the remaining journey to achieve sustainable development.
“Though we have gone a long way in building our lives and a better nation, a lot still needs to be done,” Mitali said.
“The Kwibuka Flame should continue reminding us of our responsibility to keep championing a prosperous nation,” he added.
Mitali urged residents to actively participate in all activities ahead of the national commemoration week, which include cleaning memorial sites, public lectures, supporting vulnerable survivors and the Kwibuka Flame tour, among others.
He also urged them to desist from any form of discrimination in order to be able to forge a better nation for the future generations.
Emmanuel Ngendahayo, resident
I interpret this Flame as an indication of what the future beholds for us; that life will be better. If everyone strives to do good, I think we shall reach that time when our nation will be strong and prosperous.
Emmanuel Kamanzi, resident
The Flame reminds us of the difficult time we went through and the resolve we have taken ever since to never step back. We need to continue our efforts towards improving our lives and building our nation and I believe together we shall succeed.
Esperence Mukamusoni, Survivor
The Kwibuka Flame reminds us of the terrible time we went through. That time when darkness fell over this nation. However, it shows that we have since moved out of that time and that we have entered a period of joy, growth and success. It is time we work hard to safeguard the achievements, realise much more and thank God for having protected us until today.