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We MUST take Rwanda Genocide as a Key Lesson in our Daily Life

The 1994 Rwanda genocide, in which an estimated one million people perished within three months, is one of the most illustrative. At the sight of skulls of some of the victims on display in a commemorative museum in Kigali, otherwise very strong-willed individuals break down and weep liberally.


While it is generally agreed that adults, more-so males, should steel their nerves and guard against betraying their emotions in public, even in emotionally charged situations, that presumed principle is more often than not shattered due to extremely taxing circumstances.

The 1994 Rwanda genocide, in which an estimated one million people perished within three months, is one of the most illustrative. At the sight of skulls of some of the victims on display in a commemorative museum in Kigali, otherwise very strong-willed individuals break down and weep liberally.

Prominent South African cleric and social rights activist Archbishop Desmond Tutu once broke down and wept uncontrollably during a visit to the facility some years ago, and it took quite a while for passionate diplomacy by his hosts and security personnel to calm his frayed nerves.

The cleric was acutely enraged by the graphic site at the museum skulls of children of God who had been butchered mercilessly by fellow creatures of God.

The horrendous crime was largely driven by the presumed crime of the victims being members of the Tutsi ethnic group, as well as moderate Hutus who bore the loose characterisation of ‘Tutsi sympathisers’.

It is said that the passage of time is a great healer of wounds. Non-Rwandans may consider 22 years down the post-genocide path a fairly long enough period within which the wounds should heal considerably.

We are conscious, though, that it is a painful process for survivors of close relatives who were butchered to overcome the trauma, forgive living and dead perpetrators, and restore their lives to full normalcy.

This Picture tells the genocide which took place in Rwanda This Hutu man was in one of those concentration camps who was brutally tortured.

Some surviving murderers may be remorseful, while hardliners may still cling to the belief that their evil deeds were noble.

Our impassioned appeal is that Rwandans should close the ugly chapter. As Tanzanian President John Magufuli poignantly explained during his recent visit to the neighbouring country, “We can’t change the past, but can determine out present and future.”

He was alluding to the impossibility of undoing the horrendous genocide, but concurrently stressing that it was within the capability of his hosts to prevent its recurrence.

We echo the sentiments wholly, as a repeat of the three months between April and July 1994 when the country was transformed into a butcher house, is too ghastly to contemplate.

Avoid Tribal Conflicts

Rwandans are essentially a nice people, but some wayward elements manipulate the senseless tribal factor to breed hatred between individuals, including, incredibly, previously harmonious Tutsi Hutu matrimonial couples.

It’s most heartening that Rwanda emerged from the horror to ease the ethnic rivalries and, thanks to the Paul Kagame-led government, to turn the country into an African economic success story. Yet, we wish to stress that, genocide and other forms of violence that produce deaths, disfigurement, emotional scars, and inter-community strife, are not a Rwanda-specific curse.

They happened elsewhere in Africa and beyond, long before the genocide, and are currently literally tearing some countries apart.

It is thus appalling, inexcusable and embarrassing, that, rather than learn from the Rwanda tragedy, some mischievous elements in Africa, including in Tanzania, are fanning the embers of tribal chauvinism.

They shouldn’t be given a chance, to guard against senselessness of the Rwanda genocide variety.

By Robert Muriisa.

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