AS RWANDANS today begin the official week-long mourning for the victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, they can take solace in the fact that they have never been prouder of their country and more hopeful for the future.
Twenty years ago, this country was plunged into total darkness by a genocidal regime that had for long planned the extermination of a section of its people, and for 100 dark days, they did their best to achieve their evil agenda.
The Genocide against the Tutsi was both the fastest and most vicious ever recorded in human history, claiming the lives of over a million innocent people.
In 1994 Rwanda died. The country succumbed to a deadly ideology that was tragically sown by the Belgian colonialists and ruthlessly and relentlessly nurtured by successive fascist regimes over a period spanning well over 30 years.
Twenty years ago, Rwanda was a basket case that had all the ingredients of descending into a failed state with no hope of ever recovering. Not even the most optimistic ever imagined the country could dramatically bounce back into a proud nation it is today!
Rwandans have bravely faced their ugly past, squarely dealt with every consequence of the Genocide, and are committed to building on the progress they collectively made for a brighter future.
Remnants of the militia responsible for the Genocide still crave to accomplish their agenda from their bases in next-door DR Congo, and yet the world continues to render lip service to the ‘never again’ slogan.
But if the reconstruction and recovery process of Rwanda teaches us anything, it is that Rwandans are determined to defend their country and their hard-earned dignity to ensure that good prevails over evil.
To perpetrators of the Genocide, Rwanda’s arms remain wide open ready to welcome them home if they abandon their genocide agenda, own up to their crimes and seek forgiveness.
To the rest of the world, the Genocide anniversary should be an opportunity to reflect on their responsibility to fight evil, anywhere in the world, and do everything possible to stop genocide ever occurring again.
As we remember our loved ones and stand in solidarity with the survivors, we should all endeavour to honour the victims by standing for unity, love and tolerance – virtues that have characterised Rwanda for the last two decades.