Feature: From despair to beacon of hope

As one snakes through the charming hilly terrain of Rwanda, the fast growing town of Kigali – arguably the cleanest city in the region – instantly comes into view. Fifteen years after the genocide, the drastic changes in this country can be noticed with ease. But what also comes to one’s mind is the glaring fact that the road leading to these tremendous achievements has not been smooth.
In 1994, no one would visualise such tranquility. Bodies were littered on all the highways.
In 1994, no one would visualise such tranquility. Bodies were littered on all the highways.

As one snakes through the charming hilly terrain of Rwanda, the fast growing town of Kigali – arguably the cleanest city in the region – instantly comes into view. Fifteen years after the genocide, the drastic changes in this country can be noticed with ease.

But what also comes to one’s mind is the glaring fact that the road leading to these tremendous achievements has not been smooth. It has been punctuated by hopelessness, misery and poverty.

But on a brighter side, unending hope for the future among the people of Rwanda has characterised the nation’s recovery process.

As most Rwandese especially children and women continue to struggle with the lingering impact of the atrocities, many others have managed to pull themselves together and re-build their country.

They have used their past dark experience and misery to forge a future for the next generations, and have vowed ‘Never again’ to the atrocities that tore their nation apart 15 years ago.

And irrespective of the copious crimes that were committed against thousands of Rwandan women during the 1994 Genocide  against the Tutsi– most of them will probably live with that psychological trauma for the rest of their lives – and the resultant HIV/Aids infection, they have courageously managed to play a key role in the re-building of their motherland.

However, as the saying goes, beside every successful man, is a woman; so is our country Rwanda. Women have been the backbone of this country’s development and have been good ambassadors internationally.

Thanks to the men who have offered that peaceful environment and a supportive hand to the women and other groups who were excluded in the past like the youth and the vulnerable to exploit their potentials.

Thanks to the visionary leadership of President Paul Kagame, women currently occupy 56 seats out of 80 in the Chamber of Deputies, far well above the minimum 30 percent seats stipulated in our Constitution.

In my own view therefore, I believe that it’s those who have endured the massive sufferings in their lives that can build from their past misery and restore their lost hope thus re-building their country by striving to lead a better life.

This means that people like the Director of State Protocol, Ms. Rose Kabuye will definitely learn from the harsh experience she has had to go through in Germany and France. Certainly she will come out of that situation much stronger.

Thus I cannot agree more with UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy when he said recently: “The (15th Genocide) anniversary must be marked with renewed concern for those continuing to suffer from genocide ….we are all still accountable for supporting reconciliation and healing, and for ensuring that such atrocities never happen again.”

As Rwandans, we just need to keep up the fight for freedom, and more importantly for economic independence. We need not to live on handouts.

And as we pay tribute to our befallen countrymen, we should all rally our support behind genocide survivors and the disadvantaged. They need our love and support. It’s this kind of resilience that will keep Rwanda a beacon of hope.

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