Genocide memorial: Change in colour for mourning

A research into Rwanda’s traditional mourning rituals indicated that people used to smear themselves with ash as they mourned their beloved ones.

A research into Rwanda’s traditional mourning rituals indicated that people used to smear themselves with ash as they mourned their beloved ones.

The research findings were the basis of Cabinet’s recent decision to change the commemoration colour from purple to gray, a colour synonymous with ash.

Officials say currently plans are underway to change commemoration paints, symbols and everything that has purple in it to gray.

“We searched for information from people who are knowledgeable in Rwandan traditions like intellectuals and elders in order to choose what colour can be used during the time of mourning week,” Jean De Dieu Mucyo, the executive secretary of the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG), told The New Times.

 “We realised that, traditionally, Rwandans were mourning their beloved ones by putting wood ashes upon their heads.”

The common agreement was that the purple colour is a Western and Catholic based- tradition whereby during different ecclesiastic ceremonies like Easter, the purple colour is used.

According to scholars, in addition to this, none among Tutsi was killed because of their faith, therefore, the purple colour does not apply to the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

The president of Ibuka, the umbrella body of Genocide survivors, Dr Jean Pierre Dusingizemungu, said the general perspective is that Genocide survivors welcomed the new colour 

“There is no reason why this colour (purple) should be used in the mourning week while there is another one that connects better with our traditional mourning events,” he said.

Dusingizemungu said Rwandans keep on being eager to find their own home-grown solutions to all the specific problems the nation encounters and that decision was taken in line with that philosophy.

In a related development, speaking during a town hall meeting yesterday, the Minister of Sports and  Culture, Protais Mitali, said the commemoration will be marked at the Village (Umudugudu) level.

For the past years, ceremonies to start the Commemoration week (April 7 to 13) were held involved a national opening event at a designated location in the coutry, while the last day was marked at the Rebero Memorial site, the Genocide memorial for political leaders.

“Celebration at the grassroots level will bring about more participation by the population from all neighborhoods,” said Mitali. “This will eventually create ownership of the commemoration activities.”

He said at the grassroots level, commemoration events will be held at the nearest memorial site in every sector. However, Mitali said commemoration at the national level will be held once every five years.

On April 7, President Paul Kagame will pay tribute to those who lost their lives in the Genocide at Kigali Memorial Centre where he will lay a wreath to the mass graves and address the nation at midday.

Since the commencement day of the commemoration will be a Sunday, government recently asked religious leaders to ensure that they conduct the early morning masses so that people can attend the commemoration event.

“We requested them to ensure that all masses end by 11:00am latest,” said the Mayor of City of Kigali, Fidele Ndayisaba.

During the 19th Commemoration, public lectures and town hall meetings will be conducted every afternoon for the whole week under this year’s theme, ‘Let us commemorate the Tutsi Genocide as we strive for self reliance’.

As always, no form of entertainment is allowed during the commemoration week and all flags in the country will fly at half-mast.

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