SUNDAY WAS A special day for Rutsiro residents as they gathered at Mukebera Stadium to welcome the Kwibuka (Remembrance) Flame as it completed the 13th leg of its national tour.
The Flame, which departed from Kigali for its first leg last month, is set to reach all districts before the start of the National Commemoration week in April.
It signifies remembrance resilience, hard work, unity and commitment of Rwandans who have worked hard over the past 20 years to rebuild their country.
As the torch arrived, carried by two 20-year-old school children accompanied by another 20 kids (to signify the past 20 years ever since the Genocide was stopped), hundreds of residents welcomed it with a standing ovation. The most curious were seen pulling their heads over others’ shoulders to catch a glimpse of the torch as it made its way to the district.
Speaker after speaker including Genocide survivors, perpetrators and officials spoke of hope, resilience, hard work and better life for all Rwandans.
Fidele Rurangirwa, a Genocide survivor, gave a testimony of how survivors in the area have transformed their lives.
Rurangirwa, who represents survivors in Gihango Sector, said: “Every survivor is working hard to uplift their lives and we have achieved a lot in that direction.”
He hailed the Government for supporting Genocide survivors who were left with deep wounds after losing relatives, friends and property during the 1994 Genocide.
“Survivors now have decent accommodation, are able to educate their children and access medical care,” he noted.
He challenged fellow survivors to continue working hard to improve their lives. He urged them to use the prevailing peace and security in the country to transform their lives.
Rutsiro District mayor Gaspard Byukusenge said the Kwibuka Flame signifies the enduring Rwandan spirit.
“We will always work for a better country, a nation free from discrimination and a country in which every citizen is empowered to aspire and achieve their dreams,” Byukusenge said.
The mayor urged residents to contribute to nation building and safeguarding the already registered achievements.
He said today’s leaders work for the good of the people, something that did not exist in the past decades.
“You should make use of the prevailing good leadership to transform your lives,” Byukusenge said.
The Minister for Natural Resources, Stanislas Kamanzi, told Rutsiro residents that the Kwibuka Flame is a symbol of hope and optimism that the future generations will inherit a strong nation.
He said the decision to have the torch carried by children indicates that the young have been given a chance to live in a prosperous nation, years after it sunk into darkness due to bad leadership.
“We need to think about what made us fall into darkness and continue with our resolve to shun similar mistakes,” Kamanzi told residents.
He said it is time to champion the real truth about what happened in the past and work together to develop the country,” he added.
Those who participated in the Genocide should own up their acts, repent and seek forgiveness, Kamanzi said.
The minister called upon Rwandans to fight against genocide ideology and denial.
“We have learnt from our past, we are successfully building a strong nation and will never waiver,” he said.
What they said
Joseph Ntibiringirwa, 40, a Genocide convict who completed his sentence
It is sad Rwanda was destroyed by its own citizens and I regret being one of them. I apologised for my evil acts and I am thankful to those I offended for forgiving me unconditionally. I request all Rwandans to put aside anything that might tear our country apart once again. Together, we can achieve a lot. This torch we have welcomed is a sign that we have totally overcome divisionism and discrimination which led us to the Genocide.
Sharon Mutoni, 20, student
It is a shame that a part of the population turned against others, killing them just because they were Tutsis. It is everyones’s obligation, particularly we the youth, to ensure that that part of our history never happens again. We need to remain united and shun divisionism.