My trip to Kigali, Rwanda wouldn’t have been complete without paying a visit to Kigali Genocide Memorial Center. This place has the remains from the Genocide – skulls, clothes, guns and names of the people that died. Over half of the population was killed during this period and the memorial center documents the entire story with live pieces from the war.
After my Commonwealth Games Federation Internship workshop, I stayed back in Rwanda for ten (10) more days so I could enjoy the city and culture. I lodged in an area called Gisozi with my friend and the memorial center was close by. On the day of my visit, I walked to the gate and met very friendly security guards. They directed me to the reception and I went gladly. I thought I was going to pay for this experience but to my greatest surprise, it was free.
I was with other tourists from different countries and we waited for further instructions. Our instructor came and led us to a room to watch a video which featured survivors from the genocide and other clips. It was an emotional moment for everyone as we watched. After the video, we started moving from one section to the other, one room to the other with pictures, guns, clothes of dead people displayed in them. The facilitator told us the stories behind each picture as we walked through. The most emotional part for me was in a room filled with the skulls of people who died and also the clothes of dead babies. I knew war was not the way forward. Top leaders during that time were behind this and also religion. The government really did a good job by setting up local courts – Gacaca in communities to fight the perpetrators.
The most emotional part for me was in a room filled with the skulls of people who died and also the clothes of dead babies. I knew war was not the way forward
After touring the indoors of the building, we watched another video where the survivors talked about their experiences. One of them said,
My neighbor betrayed my family by revealing the whereabouts and identity of my parents. My parents took care of them but they betrayed us. My parents were killed because of this. I forgive them, anyone that kills doesn’t love himself
I almost shed tears.
I went to the “Wall of Names” which is outside the main building. It has the names of people who died during the genocide. I also saw the grave yards for the dead people. Anyone who pays a visit to this place will never support wars. I love the fact that the Rwandan government bring students here and educate them not to repeat the mistakes of their parents.
Sometimes feeling sad can make you hungry, so I had to eat at their beautiful restaurant before I add to the number of dead people.
I came back to my friend’s place, feeling sad and also thinking about my dear country NIGERIA. I asked my friend, “Are you Tutsi or Hutu”, he replied, “I don’t know, my parents told me we are Rwandese”
I asked my friend, “Are you Tutsi or Hutu”, he replied, “I don’t know, my parents told me we are Rwandese”
This means parents have a role in shaping the mindsets of their children. We belong to a country before our tribe. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t educate our children about our ethnic groups just like my friend’s parents did, but foster unity by putting the country first.
Last year, Morgan Freeman visited this place and he said,
We are here, we came as a group, a film crew to talk about the Genocide but we also came to talk about your reconciliation and what we have learned makes us feel very, and more, proud to know you, and number two, very hopeful for the future of humanity, because what you have achieved as a result of the Genocide, as a result of reconciliation, makes us all feel that peace is possible. Thank you. Actor Morgan Freeman during his visit to the memorial.
Source: @kigali_memorial on instagram.
You need to see how developed Rwanda is despite the genocide. Read my experience here: Ten Amazing Facts About Rwanda.
The essence of this post is for you to say “NO” to fighting and embrace unity and reconciliation. If peace is possible for Rwanda, it is possible for other countries.
Let me know your thoughts.