Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Sometimes In April:Rwanda Remembers the Genocide 22 Years After

Many people who will read this article have heard about the movie with that title. Many may have not only heard about it but watched it too.
 I still recall the deep indescribable emotions that overwhelmed me the first time I saw the movie. I had earlier seen “Hotel Rwanda” before it and later, I also saw “Shooting Dogs”. They taught me a lot about life and people. They taught me about what hatred could cause and the capacity of the human heart to perpetrate evil. I knew then man could commit any conceivable evil, no matter how atrocious. It can be considered and can equally be executed.

The Rwandan genocide is one of the heaviest moments in human history.Never will such
evil  be allowed to happen again.


We in this part of the world cannot really understand what actually happened in Rwanda within those 100 days. Only a Rwandan genocide survivor can explain and most times, it’s never the best story to tell or the best memory to call up but, it has to be called up-at least nationally-once a year to help build a solid future devoid of hate and any likelihood of a repeat.
 
Two 20-year-olds carry the Kwibuka Flame as it arrived in Midlands, UK. The Flame started in London, then Oxford, Reading and Coventry
How does it feel when ones neighbors and friends suddenly rush into your compound, armed with knives, clubs and other dangerous weapons and begin to cut down their longtime friends? Ever imagined a man picking up a matchet against his wife and club her to death, because she is from another ethnic group? And another rude shock is when some of those killers were woman, killing their fellow women and their children. How does it sound that parents abandon their kids because they were fathered by a man from the rival tribe?
 
Matching in commemoration
Rape was used as a war instrument against the Tutsi women. The Hutus were charged to rape the Tutsi women in the most ignominious manner that left many of them totally devastated.Many grown up women who livedthrough the genocide had SOME bad experience to tell. Between 250,000 -  500,000 women were raped. 

The militiamen released hundreds of prisoners suffering from AIDS and used them deliberately to infect the Tutsi women by raping them such that today, thousands of them are HIV positive, many children born by newly infected mothers from rape and not knowing their true father. Add this to the trauma of the mother recalling how her child was conceived and having to live with the reality for decades.

During this period of terrible slaughter, more than 6 men, women and children were murdered every minute of every hour of every day. This brutally efficient killing was maintained for more than 3 months.3There are between 300,000 to 400,000 survivors of the genocide.4

The movies tried a lot to depict what might have happened but no matter how they tried, they couldn’t show the actual atrocities and how it was done in Rwanda. Much of what you see that brought tears to your eyes, were some soft core wickedness compared to what real people experienced in 1994.
St John's Catholic church,Kibuye.More than 11,000 people killed here

A Roman Catholic missionary would be quoted in Time magazine as saying that: "There are no devils left in Hell. They are all in Rwanda."

No evil is impossible to conceive in the mind of men the reverse is also the case-that man is capable of carrying out every good action that his mind can conceive. 

It was estimated that during this period of terrible slaughter, more than 6 men, women and children were murdered every minute of every hour of every day. This brutally efficient killing was maintained for more than 3 months. None-stop and by the time the RPF took over the country in July, more than 800,000 people were dead.

But how did it all start? What actually caused the genocide in the first place? In brief, the genocide began on April 7; 1994.On the 6th of April 1994 an airplane crash in 1994 carrying the presidents of Rwanda, Juvenal Habyarimana, and Burundian president, Cyprian Ntaryamira provided a spark for an organized campaign of violence against the Tutsi and moderate Hutu civilians across the country. 

The entire country became a killing field. Approximately 800,000 Tutsis and Hutu moderates were slaughtered in a carefully organized program of genocide over 100 days, making history as the quickest killing spree the world has ever seen.

Approximately 800,000 Tutsis and Hutu moderates were slaughtered in a carefully organized program of genocide over 100 days, making history as the quickest killing spree the world has ever seen. But the death of the president was by no means the only cause of Africa's largest genocide in modern times. 

Ethnic tension in Rwanda is nothing new. There have been always been disagreements between the majority Hutus and minority Tutsis, but the animosity between them has grown substantially since the colonial period.

And so, as you read this, homes in Rwanda and Rwandans in diaspora are today, April 6, preparing to commemorate the 22nd memorial of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsis by the Hutu led government. The following week is regarded as a week of mourning by the country as families. 

April 7 to July 14th, is a period that every Rwandan recalls especially because it was a time, way back that changed, their lives, changed their perception of about a lot of things, left many of them deeply wounded and continually hurting, and impacted deeply on the faith of thousands of them. The memorial is called Kwibuka.
 A statement from Kwibuka website reads,”Kwibuka means ‘remember’ in Kinyarwanda, Rwanda’s language. It describes the annual commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

More than one million Rwandans died in the hundred days of the genocide. It was one of human history’s darkest times. Twenty years later we, Rwanda, ask the world to unite to remember the lives that were lost.

We ask the world to come together to support the survivors of the genocide, and to ensure that such an atrocity can never happen again – in Rwanda or elsewhere.
Kwibuka is a series of events taking place in Rwanda and around the world. These events lead up to the national commemoration of the genocide in Rwanda, which begins on 7 April 2016. The genocide began on 7 April 1994.”

You might be asking “why the memorial “? Or “Why should they remember such a dark
Yes. You mow know why that movie was named “Sometimes In April’. The genocide, one of the most barbaric, hellish, wicked and inhuman evil was perpetrated in that small east African country, known as “The land of a Thousand Hills’ because of its hilly terrain. A missionary describes it this way,’’

The 2016 commemoration will be marked under the theme “Let us commemorate the Genocide against Tutsi fighting genocide ideology.”

The commemoration week will start on April 7 with lighting the flame of remembrance at Kigali Genocide Memorial Site in Gismos. Talk sessions will be held at a village level every afternoon. They will end on April 13 at Rebero Memorial Site with the remembrance of politicians killed for opposing genocide.

However, commemoration activities will continue for 100 days – until July 3 – across the country.


Present day kigali:peaceful,clean  and prosperous

Rwanda has tried a lot to pull out of the ugly past and build a future full of hope and promises.It is very obvious and the people are optimistic and enthusiatic of achieving a future full of stability and sucess. 







 To read more about the genocide and the rememberance-KWIBUKA,check out below resources.
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Nyamata church where thousands were massacred. http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/13153982.Rwanda__20_years_after_the_genocide/
Statistics of the genocide
http://survivors-fund.org.uk/resources/rwandan-history/statistics/
Kwibuka
How It Happened
brief history of Rwanda
some survivors narrate ordeal
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2004/mar/29/rwanda.chrismcgreal