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A visit to Kigali Genocide Memorial in Rwanda

Kigali Genocide Memorial: A stark reminder of Rwanda’s dark days

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Kigali Genocide Memorial in Rwanda is not only a sad tale but a stark reminder to Rwandans on the importance of harmony.

The memorial at Kisozi district in Kigali has about 250,000 Hutus and Tutsis buried in mass graves following the 100-day genocide engineered and executed by the Interahamwe army in 1994.

Although it is terrifying, the Kigali Genocide Memorial remains a top tourist attraction with a record of 96,278 people visiting the memorial in 2017, a number that has increased since then.

A tour to the memorial starts with an audio take-through about Rwanda’s divisive colonial rule which informed the 1994 genocide. The audio tour costs $15 and is followed a video tour where some of the survivors tell the tall tale of the horrendous butchering experience they witnessed.

Part of the video narration has young children who were left homeless and with no one to take care of them as their parents and relatives were subjected to butchering by machete-wielding men affiliated to Interahamwe army.

The memorial takes visitors through the channels of justice for the genocide victims, to the International Tribunal in Arusha. However, what’s interesting is how effective local tribunals were in resolving cases related to the genocide.

The local courts referred to as Gacaca courts in Rwandese are headed by village elders who determined the cases and gave their ruling.

In their directives informed by the need to mend the broken ties of harmony between Hutus and Tutsi, suspects were bound to working in farms of their adversaries to have them reconcile. It has so far borne fruits as forgiveness is a virtue now deeply entrenched in these communities. 

The memorial’s upper floor has a collection of information on other states in the world which have had genocides and interventions taken to correct the situation.

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