Rwanda on Saturday set alight the Flame of Hope at the 24th commemoration of genocide, where President Paul Kagame urged the preservation of the “truth” of the facts on genocide for future generations.
The President, said at the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre that though Rwanda has largely left behind its difficult past, there was need to keep remembering the massacre to ensure that the “truth is not rewritten”.
Kagame and First Lady Jeannette Kagame set alight the Flame of Hope at the event attended by diplomats including South African High Commissioner to Rwanda, George Nkosinati Twala.
“When the truth is revealed, it allows people to continue reflecting on it and it becomes a basis of what we do to press ahead. It is that truth we are commemorating today,” President Kagame said.
“Even those who don’t commemorate with us know the truth and deliberately ignore it. As we say in Kinyarwanda, ‘truth goes through fire and remains intact’,” he said.
The 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi started on April 7, 1994 and swept across the country for 100 days with some one million people losing their lives.
24 years on, Rwanda continues to dismiss the narrative that the genocide was sparked by the downing of the plane carrying President Juvenal Habyarimana and his Burundian counterpart Cyprien Ntaryamira on the evening of April 6.
The head of the National Commission for Fight against Genocide (CNLG), Dr Jean Damascene Bizimana, restated that the massacre began long before the 100 days when president Habyarimana began using anti-Tutsi rhetoric to consolidate his power.
“Whether it was in his speeches or policies, president Habyarimana revealed his responsibility in planning the genocide against the Tutsis,” Dr Bizimana told those who had gathered at the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre.
He pointed out examples of documents and permits issued by Habyarimana’s government which discriminated against Tutsis.
President Kagame said there are people who have been attempting or supporting efforts to rewrite that history and urged Rwandans to reject such undertakings and instead focus on how to build the nation from that the dark past.
“Commemorating the genocide is part of confronting our past and an opportunity to strive to change for the better. It also reminds us that if we don’t confront our history in the way we should, it can repeat itself. In whatever we do, we must ensure that our history doesn’t repeat itself,” he said.