Gicumbi survivors weigh the ideals of human resilience against all odds

RWANDA has made significant gains over the past 20 years despite starting the economy from rubles following the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, residents in Gicumbi District have said.

RWANDA has made significant gains over the past 20 years despite starting the economy from rubles following the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, residents in Gicumbi District have said.

They were speaking yesterday at an event to welcome the Kwibuka Flame in the district.

The arrival of the torch in Gicumbi marked its 20th stop of its national tour. 

It is set to reach all the districts before the start of the national commemoration week on April 7.

The torch symbolises remembrance as well as the resilience of Rwandans over the past 20 years.

Anastase Kamizikunze, a Genocide survivor living in Mutete Sector, said the past two decades have been very instrumental in the transformation of lives of survivors.

To be where the nation is today is testimony to the determination of the people, especially survivors, to live and better their livelood.

He said they have picked up with life despite the tough challenges they faced after the tragic 1994 pogrom.

“We have regained hope and that allowed us to live. We are determined to live better,” Kamizikunze told The New Times in an interview shortly after the event.

“Students are going to school, people have access to health services and we are altogether continuously growing.”


Kamizikunze said efforts put in giving survivors justice, coupled with the commitment to reconciliation and unity of Rwandans, has given survivors and Rwandans at large optimism that the future of the nation is bright.

Emmanuel Gatera, 55, also a survivor, said his life has continuously improved for the past two decades.

Gatera said he has been able to educate his children and cater for their other needs.

“Life has been hard for us after the Genocide. But thanks to support we got, we have successfully grown and improved our lives,” Gatera said.

He has managed to put up a shelter and can afford his family’s basic necessities, including catering for his family’s remittance to the community health insurance scheme (Mutuelle de Sante), among others. 

“We are better off today,” he said.

Driving country’s destiny

Speaking at the event, the Mayor of Gicumbi District, Alexandre Mvuyekure, said the Flame is “an everlasting symbol of light that has chased away darkness which befell the country since the colonial era.”

He said Genocide left the country in total ruins, with survivors left in despaire with no hope for the future.

But, he said, the joint efforts between the population and good policies promoted after the tragic chapter in the country’s history have ushered Rwanda into a new era of growth, development and shared efforts to better living conditions.

“From our history we should learn to live together in harmony, to respect and love each other and to work together for the development of our country,” Mvuyekure said.

Northern Province governor Aime Bosenibamwe told the residents that the key to better lives “lies within our hands.”

“Let love continue to live in our hearts and unity prevail in our lives for us to continue building a better nation,” Bosenibamwe said.

“We are responsible for our destiny and should strive to drive our country to a better place. The struggle to making Rwanda better is for all of us and we have the capacity and ability to deliver the promise.”

The Minister for Health, Dr Agnes Binagwaho, told Gicumbi residents that 20 years after the Genocide is a time to keep championing the truth about the country’s past as a way of strengthening Rwandans’ unity.

“As we remember, let’s strive to continue rebuilding our lives,” Dr Binagwaho said.

She also called for support to Genocide survivors, particularly orphans and widows, to help them uplift their living conditions.

During the Genocide, thousands of Tutsis who had taken refuge at Zoko hill in Gicumbi were overpowered and murdered by Interahamwe militia and soldiers. 

Today, Mutete memorial site is home to more than 1,000 victims of the Genocide.

What they said . . .

Evariste Kabudeyi, 45, resident.

‘Today, I am confident and very proud of my country because of the prevailing peace environment which has allowed us to work for our development. This Flame thus serves to strengthen our resolve to better life and is a symbol that our unity, which is the foundation of all our achievements, will no longer be torn apart.’


Marie Louise Dusabe, 20, student.

‘This Flame serves to show Rwandans that we have defeated the darkness of Genocide and that light came our way. It is an indication that the future holds the best for all Rwandans.’

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