This week, I am taking a break from my usual amusement tours for obvious reasons. Instead, I am visiting the Campaign Against Genocide Museum, a number of genocide memorial sites and one reconciliation village.
On the first day of the official commemoration week, I participated in an activity dubbed ’Walk to Remember’ which is a demonstration of our firm stand against the genocide ideology. This is an initiative of the Peace and Love proclaimers (PLP), an organization formed by the youth to inject positive change into the world through unity, peace and development.
It was a quiet day and the mood in the air was sombre. Most businesses were closed but the Gishushu branch of Simba supermarket was busier than usual. Looking at this enterprise, I wondered whether it’s a supermarket or a restaurant. I tried to figure out whether it’s a bar or a coffee shop. Its confusing set up encompasses all of the above.
Different groups had assembled at Simba supermarket, restaurant, bar, café or whatever you call it. These groups were in transit to the parliamentary building located on the opposite side of KN 5 Road. As it has been the case since its inaugural edition in 2009, the parliament was the starting point of this walk.
Simba-Gishushu is a popular hangout joint vending a wide range of products on a daily basis. On this particular day however, Walk to Remember merchandises were the top-selling items.
I bought my own Walk to Remember gear and crossed the road. When I entered the premises of the parliament, thousands of Rwandans and friends of Rwanda were already there. Reporters from different countries across the globe were conducting interviews and capturing every little detail.
As soon as the Head of State and the First Lady arrived, we started walking towards Amahoro National Stadium where the night vigil took place. I marched in the midst of boys and girls who were born after the genocide. Every step we took served as an emphasis of our ’Never Again’ decree.
In the stadium, we sat down quietly and followed remarks from the Minister of Justice and the president of Ibuka, an umbrella organization coordinating different associations of survivors. We watched young poets reciting names of some of the victims. We listened to the testimony of one survivor who escaped death by a whisker. We digested messages of encouragement and hope from politicians, entertainers and business moguls among others.
As illuminating candles filled the stands, we reaffirmed our commitment to the process of creating a better future. We paid tribute to the victims and stood by those who are still struggling to overcome the inevitable trauma.