Sunday, 29 April 2012

Genocide Memorial

April is the saddest month for Rwandan people because it is when the genocide began, some 18 years ago now. It is during this month that you hear stories about what happened here during that time and you are reminded by just how much people lost here. Most people are not open about it, but then someone will surprise you and tell you their story on the bus. One such moment happened about a week ago. 

 I met a young man who I guessed was in his early 20’s on the bus who was keen to practise his English. He told me that he had a brother that was studying in the UK and that he wanted to go there one day because he was the only other person left in his family. He lost his parents and all of his other siblings in the genocide. I was struck by his openness and also his spirit. He had dreams for the future, he wanted to become a computer scientist and have his own business. He said that he liked Rwanda now and it was a good place to be. It reminds you of the strength of many people in Rwanda that despite all the sadness they continue to live with that they won’t give up on the future and that they do still love their country.  

I went to walk around the grounds of the Gisozi genocide memorial in Kigali. I didn’t go into the museum again, but I took my time just to walk around. The ‘wall of names’ of the genocide victims had more significance for me now as I recognise family names of people I know. The mass graves had flowers on them and a purple banner above, purple being the colour of genocide commemoration. The torch outside the memorial was lit, as it is lit for the duration of the 100 days of genocide. As I stood looking at the torch with the gleaming new skyscrapers of Kigali city in the background, I was struck by all the change that has happened since that time. It is a challenge for Rwanda to reconcile their dark past with the shiny new future, but they are trying.  

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