Today, 7th April 2022, marks 28 years since the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.
The tragic event occurred between 7th April 1994 and 15th July 1994 – about 100 days of intentional and systematic mass killings – culminating in more than one million Tutsis, as well as politically moderate Hutus being murdered.The commemoration period, called “Kwibuka” – the Kinyarwanda word for Remembrance – is a time Rwandans pay homage to the victims and reflects on Rwanda’s progress after the Genocide.
Withthat said, the history of Rwanda symbolizes both the worst and the best in Africa, in the sense that it has demonstrated the dangers of ethnic discrimination, politics of divisionism, and impunity; as well as taught us the power of resilience to heal and rebuild a stronger and more sustainable society.
Thetheme for this year’s observance, as has been the case since 2018, is “Remember – Unite – Renew”. The focus on ‘Remember’ is because all those whose lives were lost during one of the darkest points in human history must be remembered.
The emphasis on “Unity” demonstrates the rebirth of a new Rwanda, united and reconciled out of the desolation of the Genocide. Finally, the stress on “Renew” denotes commitment as a people to sustain the socio-economic strides post-1994.As Rwanda reflects on Kwibuka28, the rest of the world is invited to learn from the tragic experiences to ensure that there is no repetition of events of this kind.
However, history would fail to serve as a lesson for the world if there is no collaboration from the international community to stop the genocide ideology, denial, revisionism, and dispense justice to genocide perpetrators.
As Rwanda forges on in the campaign against genocide deniers and revisionists, it is worth recalling excerpts of His Excellency President Paul Kagame’s Kwibuka speech of 2021, acknowledging Nigeria’s contribution towards stopping the Genocide through Professor Ibrahim A. Gambari, the current Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari. In 1994, Prof. Gambari was Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the UN Security Council, where he fervently argued that what was happening in Rwanda at the time was indeed a “Genocide” and called for prompt action.
The UN Resolution A/RES/74/273 of 21st April 2020 (on the International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda) highlights the imperative of shared action from Governments, International Organizations, and Civil Societies to prevent Genocide. One of which is through early warning mechanisms to detect, assess, and respond to sources of tension or identify vulnerable population.
It is standing firm against hate speech and those who incite division and violence; the development of educational programs to instill in future generations the lessons of ‘genocide’ is also critical.The AU resolution ACHPR/Res.
485 of 19th July 2021 on the commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda and the prevention of genocide denial and revisionism provides for an annual event on 7 April for the commemoration of the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda as an occasion for creating awareness about prevention of genocide and other mass atrocities.
The resolution further notes that the annual commemoration serves as an occasion for not only paying respect for the lives brutally lost and expressing solidarity with survivors but also remembering the lessons from that tragedy in order to ensure that it never happens again.
The history of Rwanda teaches us an essential lesson. The capacity for the deepest evils abides in every society, so to the qualities of tolerance, forgiveness, and reconciliation.
Let us then collectively nurture the positive hallmarks of our common humanity to help build a life of dignity and security for all.By Maureen Chukwura, Communications Officer, Rwanda High Commission in Nigeria.