It was a chilly morning at Rusiga Genocide Memorial. The mood was sombre. I was there to attend a heart-wrenching ceremony. As the official genocide commemoration week came to an end, we paid tribute to 6,403 victims laid to rest at the site.
We also gave an additional nine victims a decent burial. Twenty-seven years after the Genocide against the Tutsi, remains of innocent victims are still being found in different places around the country.
Rusiga Genocide Memorial site used to be a church. Many people who sought refuge in the church-turned mass grave were brutally killed therein. Killing sprees in houses of God across this predominantly Christian country were the norm during those 100 days of madness. How could that happen? Your guess is as good as mine.
Ntaganda Jean Damascene, a genocide survivor, narrated his ordeal running for his life during the atrocities. His testimony sounded like an excerpt from the script of a horror movie. From the bottom of his heart, he thanked RPA soldiers who saved his life and stopped the genocide.
In her heartfelt remarks, Dancilla Nyirarugero, the governor of the Northern Province, urged the grieving audience to observe the remembrance period while advancing their development agendas. In addition, she reminded them that the war against Covid- 19 is far from over. She also requested members of the community to be there for the survivors. Last but not least, she emphasized the need to ensure the new generation understands the historical context of the genocide.
Most survivors are still battling trauma. They shouldn’t face their challenges alone. They belong to a bigger family of a unified nation. It is our responsibility to provide a broader shoulder to cry on.
On that chilly morning, I took some time off my adventures and joined the people of Rulindo in remembering that dark chapter in history of our nation. We mourned the loss of our beloved ones and reaffirmed our commitment to the Never Again decree.
Sites like this are built all over the land of 1,000 hills. They symbolize the closeness of the past in a country that has moved so far away from it. Like the rest of the country, my host community in Rulindo is moving forward without forgetting lessons of the past.
The author is visiting all 30 districts of Rwanda. His tour of Rulindo is sponsored by Ikaze Rwanda Tours & Travel, The Peakspot Lodge, Rusiga Highland Resort, My Hill Ecolodge and Beyond the Gorillas Experience.