Picture: Dr. Aisa Kirabo Kacyira, High Commissioner of Rwanda to Ghana
On the 7th of April of each year, we take time to commemorate, remember and honor the loss of our loved ones; over one million innocent lives that perished during the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda in 100 days. As our President remarked in his statement to the nation this last Tuesday, ‘It is that time of the year when it is very difficult to express what is in our hearts and minds.’
Time has not dimmed the memory of our loved ones, it has instead given us resolve to strive more and live out the values they cherished and aspired to achieve. To this end, I would like to pay special tribute to the survivors of genocide who have given so much more to support the rebirth of a new Rwanda; choosing to forgive even under such unimaginable pain and trauma, in order to allow us all to embrace unity, reconciliation, peace and prosperity! As Our President said, on one of such events of commemoration ‘The Genocide survivors truly are our heroes!’
I would also like to pay special tribute and honor to the Rwanda Patriotic Army (the then Military wing of Rwanda Patriotic Front) which under the Command of President Paul Kagame, singlehandedly stopped the genocide as the international community looked on. To these young men and women who sacrificed their lives, to undertake an almost insurmountable task and against all odds, stopped the genocide and liberated our country; some paying the ultimate price, we shall forever honor you and be grateful!
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Government and people of Ghana, and other partners and friends of Rwanda here in Ghana who have stood with us during this period. Being a new Resident High Commission, and given the tough times of this COVID crisis, this means a lot to us and we really appreciate it. We had earlier planned to have a more interactive event that would have allowed us to engage more through interactive discussions, walk to remember and sharing of testimonies but with the existing COVID-19 Pandemic, and the necessary measures needed to prevent its spread, we haven’t been able to. Nevertheless, we hope to organize some interactive events once life normalizes after COVID-19. I would also like to thank the Rwandan Diaspora community and its leadership for their good collaboration and support.
The main purpose of this commemoration is to remember and honor the innocent lives lost and to take time to reflect and critically analyse our history, draw lessons from it and forge a better future to ensure genocide Never happens again. Painful as it is, it is an absolute necessity not only for the reasons I just mentioned but also for the fact that we must continue to fight the lurking evil of genocide denial and revisionism, which from the very beginning is part of the genocide ideology cycle, and whose aim is to contort history, destroy the truth, and negate the evil perpetrated by the genocidaires! To this we say, Rwanda has changed for good – it shall Never happen again!
We also call upon the international community to heed to the Security Council resolution 2150(2014) of 16 April 2014 (on prevention and fight against Genocide and other serious crimes under international law), some of the main extracts of which are the following:
• Underscores the importance of taking into account lessons learned from the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda (…)”;
• “Condemns without reservation any denial of this Genocide, and urges Member States to develop educational programs that will inculcate future generations with the lessons of the Genocide in order to help prevent future Genocides”
• Welcomes efforts by Member States to investigate and prosecute those accused of this Genocide.
Dear Friends, Partners and fellow Rwandans, genocide is not only a violation of Human rights, but a threat to international peace and justice. ‘Never again’ is a call to all humanity. I am honored and humbled to note that Rwanda has risen out of those ashes and heeded to that call way beyond its borders – to the global arena where its uniformed men and women today contribute a significant portion of the UN Peace keeping force.
At home, from this dark and tragic history, Rwandans have made tough but lasting choices to embrace unity instead of divisionism, inclusive governance instead of ‘winner takes it all’, teamwork, transparency and accountability- where everyone’s voice matters, and thinking-big ‘stretching our imagination to always aim for the best. All these milestones have been achieved inclusively under the inspirational and visionary leadership of our President H.E Paul Kagame.
Our theme for commemoration this year is Remember- Reunite-Renew; As part of our commemoration, We do light a candle, as a symbol of hope, of a brighter future. The truth is, over the years, this light and hope is increasingly becoming a reality in the lives of ordinary Rwandans! The transformation is real! We also see a brighter future for our young ones, and through these reflective periods, we engage them and encourage them to take on the button of leadership always remembering where we have come, choosing to learn from and not be defined by our past, and above all upholding the unity and dignity of all Rwandans!
As we continue to remember, We will strive to uphold it, With God’s help.
I thank you.
Author- Dr. Aisa Kirabo Kacyira, High Commissioner of Rwanda to Ghana