Today 26th March 2019, Rwanda is commemorating the 1994 genocide incident at the district level in Goma. The Kwibuka in 2019 is Rwanda’s 25th year of commemorating and paying respect for the innocent lives that were lost in the genocide. The remains of over 40,000 genocide victims collected from the old dilapidated site and one Pentecostal church are to be reburied in a new genocide memorial center in Rukumberi. Every year on 7th April, Rwanda celebrates “Kwibuka” translated as “remembrance” of genocide victims either at the district or provincial level. Thousands of people travel from far and near to be part of the Kwibuka paying respect for the innocent lives that were lost. This year, 27 heads of state and government from Africa have confirmed their attendance. These include Bill Clinton, the former president of the United States, Emmanuel Macron, the president of France, Tony Blair, the Former British Prime minister, Charles Michel the prime minister of Belgium, leaders of the East African community and heads of regional economic communities among others. The commemoration for this year is focused on teaching youth about Rwanda history. Most of the genocide victims were Tutsi commoners who were massacred ruthlessly by the Hutu. The idea of construction new genocide memorial center was a request by the genocide survivors who pleaded the government to give their lost relatives a decent burial.
Lack of funding is one of the constraints that for long hindered the construction of decent burial sites for the genocide victims. Fortunately, however, the government with the support of other non-government organizations has managed to put up a decent memorial center in three phases. The memorial c site, which is still under construction, is estimated to cost roughly RWF800 million once complete. The remains have been exhumed in the past month and prepared for reburial at the new site. 38,000 victims were exhumed from the old site while over 1,800 exhumed from a nearby ADEPR church. The new graves have a capacity to accommodate over 45,000 bodies. Also, the government is determined to continue the search for more people, so they can get a decent burial. Last year’s celebration was held in Rukumberi where 30 victims were given a decent burial. Rukumberi is one of the villages that lost a high number of people during the genocide.
You hardly hear or read a Rwanda documentary without the mention of genocide. The genocide was a mass slaughter of Rwanda Tutsi by the Hutu during the Rwanda civil war. The 100 days started from April 7 to mid-July in 1994 claiming the lives of over 1000,000 people. It’s believed that Tutsi families had been relocated to some isolated area by the then regime with the intentions of killing them. The village where Tutsi were talked to was infected by tsetse flies hence most of them died of sleeping sickness. The fighting started a day after an aeroplane carrying Habyarimana the then president of Rwanda was fired and Habyarimana shot dead. Hutu attached the Tutsi, the whole country went into fighting which shuttered it into pieces. Many people especially the Tutsi were forced out of Rwanda and ended up in Uganda as refugees. Thanks to the good governance of Paul Kagame who has brought reconciliation and stabilized the country. Today, Rwanda is ranked as one of the stable counties and peaceful tourism destinations in the world. Other genocide memorial sites in Rwanda include Kigali genocide memorial center, Murambi genocide site, Nyamata genocide site, Nyanza genocide site, and Nyarubuye genocide site among others. Travelers are allowed to enter the genocide sites free of charge and donations are according to one’s choice and capability. A visit to the genocide memorial center rewards you with a deeper understanding of the genocide, what caused it, which tribes were fighting and how did it end.
Extra tourist activities in Rwanda
Besides visiting genocide memorial sites, travelers to Rwanda can go for gorilla safaris and golden monkey trekking in Volcanoes national park, chimpanzee tracking and canopy walk in Nyungwe national park, game viewing in Akagera national park, bird watching and volcano climbing among others. The combination of these makes a complete Rwanda safari package.
The innocent victims of 1994 genocide are worthy remembering. The peaceful state of Rwanda today despite what happened make travelers visit Rwanda again and again. Enjoy your African safari to Rwanda, visit the genocide memorial sites, visit and track mountain gorillas and enjoy other tourist attractions and activities in Rwanda.