As Rwanda commemorated the 17th anniversary of the genocide, with swept the country in April and May 1994, the message from Kigali was loud and clear: NEVER AGAIN. President Paul Kagame made it all but clear that his government would do all in their power, and be undeterred by criticism from revisionist forces and genocidaires in waiting, to protect the integrity of the country and prevent by all means available any future attempts to divide the Rwandan society again along tribal lines.
Over 800.000 people, some say up to a million in fact, were killed by militias armed by the then hardline government and incited by frentic ‘kill them all’ messages from radio and television stations, and the genocide only stopped once the Rwanda Patriotic Front troops captured Kigali and drove the militias out of the country into neighbouring Congo. There, shielded by hundreds of thousands of refugees the killer militias conducted a series of incursions, hit and run attacks before the Rwandan army crossed the border to dislodge the killer gangs from their camps, liberated the ‘refugees’ who were in fact hostages and human shields for the militias and securing the borders to stop more bloodshed.
Dozens of Genocide Memorial Sites have over the past 17 years been commissioned where many of the dead were reburied with full honours and respect, a reminder near all the towns across the land of a thousand hills of what was and what must never be allowed to happen again.
While the main commemoration was held at the national Amahoro Stadium in Kigali, did special events take place across the region in Kampala, Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, bringing the Rwandan communities and their host countries together in mourning those who passed 17 years ago.
In a related development it was also learned that the Rwandan economy, now based on non tribal lines with equal access to opportunities for all, has since the coming to power of the present government in 1994 grown in leaps and bounds, and in particular the spectacular success of the tourism sector bears witness to the fact what can be achieved with peace, security and development for each and every citizen, good enough to bring ever more tourist visitors to the country which has risen like the Phoenix from the ashes of its troubled past.