Rwanda marked 25 years since the start of the 1994 Genocide that lasted 100 days and claimed the lives of over 800,000 Tutsis. The country has from April 7 been in a state of mourning for 100 days in honour of the thousands of lives lost in the sad and horrific events. Simultaneously, the 25-year mark will also be a celebration of peace among tribes since the end of the genocide.
Marked as #Kwibuka25 which translates from Kinyarwanda as #Remember25, Paul Kagame and his nationals were joined by several world leaders in the country’s capital, Kigali, on Sunday, April 7, 2019, for the commemoration.
The president was joined by foreign dignitaries at a memorial service at the Kigali Genocide Memorial where wreaths of white flowers were laid.
In addition, Kagame was joined by his wife First lady Jeannette Kagame, Jean-Claude Junker, president of the EU commission and African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat to light the Flame of Remembrance expected to be lit for the next 100 days.
Other delegates in attendance included the Prime Minister of Belgium, Charles Michel, Congo Brazzaville President Denis Sassou, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, President of Niger Mahamadou Issoufou among others from Canada, France, the UN and EU.
Later in the day, Kagame led a solemn walk in the streets of Kigali from the parliament to Amahoro National Stadium, the country’s national soccer stadium. Joined by the foreign delegates and thousands of Rwandans who walked as a sign of unity, the walk was completed with a vigil and a speech by the president where he stated ‘What happened here will never happen again’.
As part of the commemoration, First lady Jeannette Kagame also inaugurated the Garden of Memory for victims of the genocide against the Tutsi in Kigali.
The Garden is located in Nyanza Genocide Memorial and expected to have a stone monument, a dry garden, the forest of memory, landscape terraces, earth mounds, a meditation corridor, a seasonal marshland, and an amphitheatre.
Speaking at the inauguration, she said: “Through this Garden of Memory, we are also seeking and sharing the truth about the genocide against the Tutsi, making it an intentional act and a powerful mechanism to share our stories of survival and resilience, while fighting genocide ideology.”
Outside the country, world leaders have commiserated with Rwanda and French president Emmanuel Macron announced that he has set up a commission of experts to investigate France’s role in the genocide in a bid to foster true reconciliation with Rwanda. The announcement was made on April 6, 2019.
Here are some more reactions from around the world on the commemoration of the Rwandan genocide.