What does commemoration period mean to you?

It is a difficult time when Rwandans remember the unspeakable Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, which killed more than a million people and left many others with disabilities, widowed, or orphaned. For the 19th time, the country remembers with a sense of resolve that what happened in 1994 should never happen again, while they also wish for the survivors to remain strong. The New Times’ Eugene Kwibuka spoke to some of ordinary Rwandans as they prepared to mourn the victims for the 19th time since the end of the Genocide;-
Emmanuel Kabalisa
Emmanuel Kabalisa

It is a difficult time when Rwandans remember the unspeakable Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, which killed more than a million people and left many others with disabilities, widowed, or orphaned.

For the 19th time, the country remembers with a sense of resolve that what happened in 1994 should never happen again, while they also wish for the survivors to remain strong. The New TimesEugene Kwibuka spoke to some of ordinary Rwandans as they prepared to mourn the victims for the 19th time since the end of the Genocide;-

 

Emmanuel Kabalisa, 21. Survivor. Resident of Kinyinya, Gasabo district, Kigali City: ‘The commemoration is an opportunity to think about where we are coming from and where we are going. The future is bright because I am now working in construction firm after completing secondary school in the same field. I think we need to create hope in ourselves and our goals in the future. As Genocide survivors, our future counts more.’

Madarina Mukandamage, 70. Genocide widow. Lives in Kigali City and still suffers from both physical and psychological trauma: ‘This is a painful time. It is all about sorrow when you look at the orphans we have and how we were left without our families. I only have FARG (the Fund for Support to Genocide Survivors) and IBUKA (the Umbrella body of Genocide Survivors) to thank for their relentless support to me. I also think that we always have to remember that we survived, that’s very important.’

Emmanuel Mugisha
, 24. Resident of Kicukiro district, and a university student: ‘We need to use this time to remember our loved ones who succumbed to the genocide. What happened in 1994 should serve us as a lesson to live well with each other in the future. We also need to look after our orphans who lost their parents during the genocide.’

Chantal Uwase
, 30. Resident of Kacyiru in Gasabo district: ‘This commemoration will be at the village level and this should enable everyone to participate, which is a good thing. It is very important that people avoid words that open up wounds caused by the Genocide.’

Eric Mbakuriyemo
, 22. Resident of Kigali. Street vendor: ‘We need to stand by those who bore the brunt of the Genocide. In case they have any problems, we need to be nearby and comfort them. We need to avoid traumatise them.’

Florence Uwamahoro
, 20. Resident of Bugesera district. Returnee from Burundi: ‘This is a time we need to use to pay respect to those who perished and think about what happened so that it will never happen again. We especially need to stand by survivors during this time of mourning.’

Isidore Barimunsi
, 58. Lives in Gasabo district: ‘We need to use the commemoration period to remember those who died in 1994 and we all need to cooperate in remembering instead of leaving it to Genocide survivors. I think Rwandans have been slowly reconciling over the last 19 years because they apparently share everything. It was difficult to imagine that Hutus and Tutsis would be able to talk to each other again after what happened in 1994.’

Frederick Twagiramuntu
, 52. Member of Local Defence Force. Lives in Rwamagana district: ‘What happened in 1994 should never happen again. We need to use this moment to think about how to prevent it from happening again.’

 

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