A somber time for reflection in Rwanda. It was around this time 26 years ago that events triggered what went on to be a very dark phase in the country’s history.
The Tutsi genocide of 1994 is now being remembered again. Most Rwandans usually gather during this yearly commemoration but this time, they are asked to stay at home. Still, vice president of “Ibuka” survivor organization Egide Nkuranga and his family will not forget.
“My big brother, the eldest of my family, has five children and a wife. We never found any pictures of them. My children will never know their faces. That was the goal of the genociders, they wanted to exterminate everything. Their will was that no face will ever be found” Nkuranga says.
Paul Kagame who commanded the then Rwandan Patriotic Front, and who has now led the country for many years, addressed the nation in a televised speech. He thanks the nation for participating in the unusual measures necessary to combat the coronavirus pandemic in Rwanda and around the world. This year’s commemoration is challenging he notes.
And indeed so. A lock down in the country was announced for an initial two weeks on the 21st of March but has now been extended until the 19th of April.
For Égide Nkuranga’s children, it means no going out. So, they sit at home and try to have a moment of discussion, an open discussion with their father. They can ask him any questions about the Tutsi genocide in general or ask him about the genocide victims recorded in their family.
Over a million people were killed in the 1994 genocide. Though tough, the nation is moving on after several forgiveness and reconciliation chapters. And because of the current global threat of Coronavirus, this commemoration is unique.
In the words of Kagame, there will not be a “Walk to Remember, no vigil, nor public gatherings”.