As we commemorate the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi for the fifteenth time, Rwandans are reminded of the heavy loss they incurred emotionally, physically and even materially. It is a tough time for many whose grief we cannot completely fathom no matter how hard we try.
One can at times only sympathise with those who lost their loved ones at the hands of a ruthless government that was determined to eliminate one part of the population.
It is also a painful experience for Rwandans who had never set foot in their own nation, never had a place to call home. Just when they were making effort to shake hands in reconciliation with their oppressors, their expectations were marred by the horrendous killing of their kinsmen back home.
The return home though victorious was not as joyful as expected. It was difficult to pick the pieces and move on. One person who set foot in the country in April 1994 told me you had to walk across human remains and the whole place was in ruins!
I came much later in 2001 to find only a few infrastructural developments in the capital Kigali city. I remember wondering how long it would take to attain the development standards that I had seen in other cities.
However when I look around today I give God the glory for having uplifted this country, only 15 years after the Genocide. I mean you only have to drive or walk around town to know what all the fuss is about Rwanda being exemplary in every sector.
The country has made tremendous progress in infrastructure, ICT, good governance, social welfare and education just -to mention but a few-and this is reflected on the face of many a Rwandan.
For this I give a big Hooray to President Kagame and his whole team, the general population and the International community for its support.
However I would like to express my greatest gratitude to God whose role is always taken for granted but without whose favour all this would not have been achieved.
Sometimes the impact of suffering can be so strong as to cause doubt concerning God as many did following the Genocide. Some asked, ‘Why had He let it happen?’
It reminds me of the first biblical brothers in Genesis 4:16. Cain man-slaughtered his brother Abel out of sheer jealousy and when asked of his whereabouts he said he was not his brother’s keeper.
God has made us our brothers’ keepers and every biblical chapter reminds us to love our neighbours and look out for each other. He has set rules for humanity and sealed them in love and the blood of His son Jesus Christ.
Like in Cain’s case, there are dire consequences for those who break them.
God intervened to stop the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and has spent a long time comforting and reconciling Rwandans.
How else can you explain the spirit of Hope that was so vivid during this week’s commemoration events especially at Tuesday’s vigil?
I was amazed by a young Genocide survivor’s radiant hope and determination to survive and fend for himself while developing his country.
The 25 year old fellow at only 10 years of age had lost every reason for living when his family was ruthlessly butchered and he was left for dead.
His face at the time depicted inexpressible horror and shock and he had every reason to be angry and withdrawn all his life. But his posture and profile today tells a different story.
He is full of life and portrays exactly what Rwandans have strived to achieve these 15 years-reconstruction, security, success and hope.
Commemoration events of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi are always marked by grief and trauma and this one was no exception.
However this time Hope was radiating across the stadium not only from the multitudes of candles that were significantly lit but from the hearts of Rwandans across the nation.
I am so proud of my country and I am sure every Rwandan would like to be associated with its progress, a thing that was unheard of during the Genocide.
Those who disassociate themselves from this country’s development will rarely be happy with it. However, unlike the previous regimes, the current Rwandan government is welcoming anyone with second thoughts to share the fruits of what we have so tirelessly worked for these last 15 years.
Our president has severally invited even foreigners who want to contribute to national development to feel at home. This is something that was rare in the countries where we dwelt in banishment all our lives.
I for one was not admitted at university despite having attained high grades in a certain country on basis of being foreign! Thank God by that time Rwanda had established a competent education system with distinguished universities.
I sincerely call upon all Rwandans to be grateful to God during this commemoration period because all is not lost, in fact much is gained and we have more to look forward to.