Thursday, April 7, 2011

Re-membering Rwanda: Is The Past Present?

The first ever post on Udadisi was about a trip to Rwanda entitled Safarini Kigali. It was soon followed by posts entitled Lest We Forget and Kigali: Tidy City/Jiji Safi respectively. Another interesting post on Rwanda therein is entitled Kagame on Ujamaa, Imidugudu and Stubborness. They all indicate that Rwanda indeed means a lot to Udadisi as it does to Africa and the world at large. It is in this regard that Udadisi is re-posting the messages below from Wanazuoni as we mark the 17th commemoration of what happened 'Sometime in April'.

Rwanda: The Past and the Present

Alex Manonga

Today Rwandans will mark the 17th commemoration of the genocide that took lives of more than 800,000 Tutsi in 1994. The incidence of April 1994 is said to be one of the worst scenarios that distorted Africa’s image in the eyes of the world. It did not only paint dark the face of Africa, but also created a new identity for the continent. The world could only be able to see Africa in the images of Rwanda, as barbaric, violent and the land of undetermined human beings. Everything worst in Rwanda, for the West, it seemed worst for Africa.

For those of us who have had an opportunity to come to Rwanda, visit mass graves in memorial sites like Gisozi (Kigali) and Murambi (Southern Province) have seen the dark past through which this continent has passed. By seeing bodies of human beings, you can imagine the screaming, cries for help without hope, of innocent people who were mashed with machetes; and whose hands and legs were chopped off and left to bleed to death. Some of those who were buried in mass graves were buried alive because killers had no time to kill one by one or finish those wounded, as they were in a hurry of going to other places to perform the killings on the same day.

Today, as the country marks the 17th year after the genocide, there is no doubt that Rwanda is a completely changed face of Africa. Her people have sent echoes to all corners of the world, with a clear message, that imaginary walls which divide people such as tribalism, religious intolerance, nationalism, racism etc can be torn down, and that there is no challenge so powerful for the people who decide to stand as one.

In an attempt to build a united and reconciled society, the government puts aside 5% of the National budget annually to support the survivors, to enable them build houses, access social services such as education, health etc. Through the unity and reconciliation program, Rwandans have now moved from conflicts and confusion to prosperity and development.

As Churchill once warned, we should not open the conflict between the past and the present as we may come to find that we have lost the future; but we have to use the past and the present to seek for a better tomorrow. What happened in Rwanda may happen anywhere. We do not need to go through the same experience to understand the worst consequences of divisive politics. The cost is extremely high and unaffordable.

Peace means everything in life.

Rejoinder on 'Rwanda: The Past and the Present'

David Sando

This is very good news. I join many in the world to remember the tragedy that happened in Rwanda. No doubt Rwanda has made so much progress since then and is now regarded as one of the examples for African countries on the economical growth scale (GDP).

However, all through I have attended several meetings of Rwandese especially when their leaders visited places I have been and would meet with their people, it is crystal clear that not much have been done in removing the source of the then genocide, rather it is through power and Militia maintaining the current state of harmony. Almost all of these the meetings are full of the same song regarding the so persistent growing separation between the two ethnic groups, and it feels bad when you even interview some of the today generation (Rwandese youth), most hold resentment to each other and it's like a time bomb, and perhaps because the world may not tolerate such catastrophe again, then it is just the repulsion expanding.

This is just my thought that the roots of the genocide are not effectively dealt with yet, however, I stand to be corrected.



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