As Rwanda remembers, every corner hides a memory; the memories tell of incredible forgiveness, of stories that unite and heal Rwandans to hope.
Today marks the beginning of the 23rd Commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. Remember, Unite, Renew –while officiating the commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi President Paul Kagame said that Rwandans have a life to live and should forget other people’s views.
He said that since 1994 they (Rwandans) have come to a point of accepting the past as it is but ready to change the future.
“They will never shake us of our beliefs. Our politics and our lives belong to us. Those who think they can change the course we are on are welcome but they should recognize the formidable opponent in us-
Rwandans we have to live our lives. We are going to live our lives the best way we think we should” Kagame told the sad audience
He also noted “There is nothing we can do about the past but there is something we can do for our people in the present”.
In accepting the past and bid to change the future Kagame said that Rwanda is ready for anything but none of those who were targeted in the past nor intended to be targeted in the present and future will be again.
He also noted that Rwanda lost over 1 million lives-“It wasn’t a natural disaster. Politics was the cause, whether local and international”
The fact that over one million lives were systematically targeted and killed in a period of only a period of 100 days –the question remains- how did Rwanda get to this extent.
President Kagame on the name Genocide against the Tutsi said that those deciding what it should be called are the very people who had a hand in it.
“How can people keep playing around with names. They bring experts but experts to do what? Bring back people we lost?” he asked.
For the young generation, the reason why genocide happened in the first case is a hard question to get an answer to, and living with the reality of genocide ideology and its denial, trivializing genocide and the idea of double genocide is more confusing for their future.
In a song “Kuki” (why) by Uruhongore children’s choir (sung in French, English and Kinyarwanda), the teenagers, most of them below 18 years of age asked the president and a delegation- Why genocide happened in Rwanda. “The best answer to this tragedy is to work every day to build this nation for every Rwandan and anyone who wishes to live here”
“We cannot answer this question in a short time but we will” Kagame said in his speech.
“To respond in the right way is by doing it every day in whatever we do in building this country every day for Rwandans, foreigners and those who want to stay here. This is the way we can answer that question in time” he said.
To the survivors President Kagame said: You are not alone. You have lost your families but there is one family that still belongs to you: our nation
“You cannot reverse what happened but today we can do something about it – that it won’t happen again that some people will be targeted…Those who were not targeted in the past will never be targeted and those who were targeted will never be targeted again,” he said.
The President explained that Rwandans deserve to live their lives just like anyone in this world, and Rwanda is not asking for any money from anyone in this battle for survival, and a battle line has been drawn for those still struggling with understanding there responsibility, no matter how powerful they are.
“We are not asking for money. There is no money to compensate the lives, but it is the truth we are after the truth that helps them to move on. For now we have to live with that but a line has been drawn and you cannot cross” Kagame said.
However, Kagame said that Rwanda likes friends and welcomes anyone willing to change and come to work with Rwanda no matter how long it takes to accept the failure but attempt to attack Rwanda will require more work.
“We are ready and happy to move on. But for those who don’t want and think can change the course we are on have to know that they have a formidable opponent in us and will never shake our belief politics in our lives and cannot do anything about it. They will find us ready,” he said.
In his speech President Kagame recognized individuals such as Capt.Diagne of Senegal and Ghanaian peacekeepers who chose to do the right thing.
“We remember and thank those in Africa who took a stand against denial of the Genocide against the Tutsi”
President Kagame concluded his speech by thanking African Union Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat for his support and pledges support from Rwanda.