“It is time the Rwanda genocide is treated with the concern and attention it so grievously earned,” Gerald Caplan, Coordinator of the Remembering Rwanda network and author of ‘Rwanda: The Preventable Genocide’.
Rwandan’s are at the end of the first week of the 100days to mark the 16th commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. In only 100 days over one million Tutsis were slaughtered.
Amidst the difficulty of recalling such traumatic events of Rwandan’s past, why then do they take the trouble to remember those horrific days?
Rwanda was not just another ugly event in human history. Virtually all students of the subject agree that what happened in those 100 days from April to July 1994 constituted one of the purest manifestations of genocide in our time, meeting all the criteria set down in the 1948 Geneva Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide.
And since genocide is universally acknowledged as a crime of all crimes, an attack not just on the actual victims but also on all humanity, by definition needs to be remembered and memorialized.
The Rwanda genocide was a deliberate conspiratorial operation planned, organized and executed by a small, sophisticated, highly organized group of Hutu extremists who believed their self-interest would be enhanced if every one of Rwanda’s close to one million Tutsi were annihilated. They came frighteningly close to total success; this wasn’t the case as evident in today’s Rwanda 16 years after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
A lot of people don’t like to remember horrific events like this, but it is essential to remember and learn in order to move on.
Irene Mukanyonga, 18, says, “Recalling the genocide makes me remember my mother and papa and keep them within me so that I never forget them.”
Commemoration for others, is an opportunity to learn from and not repeat the same mistakes.
Moses Karangwa, 28, is a driver by profession who said, “remembering the genocide is important because it’s a learning experience especially for the youth. They get to know what happened in the past and never again repeat such evil deeds.”
For Seith Ngarambe, 35, commemorating the genocide is a crucial because it helps Rwandan’s to understand their loss and work harder towards building this nation to achieve development.
“It’s important for us who remained behind and survived to show respect to Rwanda’s heroes. Commemoration is therefore a gesture of remembering those that left us who would otherwise have contributed to the development of the country,” Ngarambe said.
If you still wonder why 16 year down the road, Rwanda still keeps the memory of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, it’s because remembering has that unseen paramount significance that only Rwandans can see if they have to move on.