Kwibuka24 | Remember Unite Renew

  It is said that one often calms grief by recounting it. We never really forget those we once loved. Although the wounds may heal over time, the scars forever remain, their memories live on. For Rwanda the scars are a reminder of lessons they so harshly learnt when they forgot they are one. Gladly for Rwanda, she has learnt the priceless value of unity, she has embraced the power of love over love of power. The emotions could not be hidden on the evening of 14th April, even though the tears were not evident, the sadness and somber mood could be felt. The Rwandan as well most of the international students in attendance were dressed in black to symbolize their mourning. The walk to remember commenced at 5:30pm, starting from the Overseas apartment parking lot where guests received the Kwibuka24 badges and walked quietly to the PG auditorium. 

  Candle lights illuminated outside the PG auditorium as a minute of silence was observed in honor of the one million lives that were lost during the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, followed by an opening prayer. Guests were then ushered inside the auditorium for a photo exhibition with displays ranging as back as precolonial era, to the dark days of savagery and atrocity 24 years ago, all the way to present day Rwanda.

  What stood out at the gallery is the profound liberation born out of forgiveness, how could a woman live next to a man who killed her entire family? How could one go back to the same neighborhood, same job or same school where 100 days ago one could not tell friend from foe? This must be the true meaning of love. As the saying goes, there is no fear in love, Love truly covers a multitude of sins.  

  After the opening remarks, names of 100 victims were read out by various Rwandan followed by short messages of encouragement. 

  Among the distinguished guests was Mr Adeleke Bwano of OEC. In his speech, he said that while we cannot erase the past we must learn from our mistakes and ask ourselves what legacies we are laying for our younger generations and our children. Our decisions determine our destiny and thus we must not be swayed by materialism but must hold on to the beliefs and faith of our founding fathers. Therefore, let us not lose hope in extending love for in due time we shall reap its fruits. He also acknowledged the important role of the less mentioned Gacaca courts in bringing post-genocide justice, healing and reconciliation.

  The people who make great poets are those who are able to express feelings and ideas with a special intensity that mostly comes from a place of personal experiences or by sharing in the emotions of another.  The evening was filled with poetry; one by one they took to the stage to express heartfelt messages within the theme Remember- unite- renew. Foreign friends were not left behind either, there was so much positive energy in the room as the foreigners from various neighboring and afar countries resonated in messages of hope. 

 Later, Mr. Samuel Gatarayiha took to the podium he started by saying that whereas the genocide happened while him and most his country mates were not yet born or were too young to understand, All of them have been affected directly. Therefore, the one-week long commemoration marked every 7th to 11th of April is usually a very sad time for them. He however reaffirmed that the reason they gather is not to share a message of grief on the contrary, they remember so that no other place in this world will have to suffer the same tragedy.  He talked about how Rwanda has risen to become one of the fastest growing economies in Africa, highly ranked for developments such as;

· The world’s leading country in promotion of gender equality with 64% of women occupying parliamentary seats. 

· Ranked the third least corrupt country in Africa.

· One of the cleanest countries in Africa and the only country where all able bodied people have to take part in community service country wide every last Saturday of each month.

· Are a major exporter of Coffee and tea owing to the high altitudes, steep slopes and volcanic soils providing favorable conditions.

· Rwanda is a home to an estimated one-third of the worldwide mountain gorilla population, it is one of only two countries in which mountain gorillas can be visited safely; the gorillas attract thousands of tourists each year, who are prepared to pay high prices for gorilla tracking permits.  

  It is evident for all to see that the narrative has long changed from the country of machetes, blood and sorrow to the country of a thousand hills and a million opportunities. We owe it to our creator for adorning us with beauty from ashes. He concluded by saying that if we don’t take anything else from the event, we should remember that ‘we lost when we forgot we are brothers.’  

  After the closing remarks guests were welcomed to a group photo. The event ended at 9pm

Writer: Consolata (Olive Daily, Olive Media)

Editor: Samuel Gatarayiha 

Photos: Avon

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