I had heard accounts of the Rwanda genocide, and honestly, was in two minds whether to take a tour of the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre or not. I was quite sure I couldn’t bear to see remains of the atrocities. But my cousin insisted. You can see Rwanda with the right perspective only when you know first-hand what happened in 1994, she reasoned. We understood what she meant….
A very easy drive, the Memorial Centre is just about 10-15 minutes away from Kigali’s main business district. Dedicated to the nation in 2004, after 10 years of the massacre, the Memorial is a gnawing reminder of Rwanda’s brutal past. As expected, I couldn’t last through the complete tour of the 2-floor museum – it was too too gory and painful for me. The accounts of the killings, the effects on the people then and henceforth, tore my heart….
But yes, as my cousin had said, the first-hand account that the museum offered, almost gave me a new set of eyes and sensibilities. So much so that, when out of the memorial and later, Rwanda and her people looked different to me. Almost searching every face for traces of the vicious past, I knew their smiles were strong, their determination even stronger; was amazed at how they had rebuilt their nation; how every home had been rebuilt, how the government had endeavored to put a balm on every soul so that the painful past could be left behind; how everything was being done to give Rwanda’s children a secure future; how the clean roads, littered with corpses only 20 years ago, were now taking the nation towards progress…
Rwanda’s resilience and courage bowled me over. But made me ponder – what the country lost in 1994 is colossal. Yet, the world has not learnt its lesson. The world is still torn and violent over issues of religion, territory, language….How does it matter? Aren’t we all humans with the same red blood in our veins? Why fight over God, land and power?