By Cami Ezenwa
Those who preach against ethnic wars have many reasons why they do so. The wounds do not heal easily and the scars are usually not easy to forget, not to talk of a situation in which such a war claimed over 100 million lives in 100 days?
Aside the loss in properties and dislocation in human population, the resultant bad blood could outlive generations.
Those are the scars of the ethnic war that the Rwandan people are trying hard to come out of, twenty eight years after they fought a civil war charaterised by intense hate, maiming, killing and reprisal killings.
The genocide occurred between 7 April and 15 July 1994 during which the Tutsi minority ethnic group were targeted by the majority Hutu tribe, capitalizing on their majority in the army, police and militia. They reportedly executed key Tutsi and moderate Hutu military and political leaders.
The Eagle investigations show that back in time, the Tutsi minority dominated the country until 1959, when the Hutus overthrew the Tutsi monarchy forcing tens of thousands of Tutsis into exile into neighbouring countries, including Uganda.
A group of Tutsi exiles formed a rebel group, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), which invaded Rwanda in 1990 intensifying the distrust and fighting. What execrated the whole thing was the 6 April 1994 incident in which then President Juvenal Habyarimana, and his counterpart Cyprien Ntaryamira of Burundi – both Hutus – was shot down.
This triggered a well-organised campaign of genocide or ethnic cleansing of Tutsis. An ethnic war of a monumental dimension had started.
Over the years, both appear to have learnt their lessons, even as the reunited Rwandans mark the 28 anniversary.
But all of that are now in the past as the country under Paul Kagame is doing all in its power to unite the country.
First Lady Jeannette Kagame has said that Rwanda’s story serves as a beacon of hope to the rest of the world, this during a recent interaction with the Rwandan Diaspora and Friends of Rwanda in the Nordic countries, which centred on Rwanda’s post-genocide journey. Part of the anniversary was paying of tribute to victims of the 1994 Genocide.
Also, officials of NCBA Bank on September 7 visited Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre and paid tribute to victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, the aim being to provide an insight into Genocide.
Officials include NCBA Bank Group Chairman James Ndengwa, Chairman of the board of directors Benjamin Rugangazi, Group Managing Director John Gachora, and NCBA Bank Rwanda CEO Lina Higiro, among other members of senior leadership.
The team watched a short film showing various testimonies of the survivors of the ethnic war.
They also toured the museum which has different parts, and learned more about the history of the Genocide.
After the tour, they observed a minute of silence as well as laid wreaths onto the mass grave where the victims are laid to rest.
A report in the New Times credits Ndengwa with saying that: “This has been a very moving and somber visit that I probably will never forget for the rest of my life. Walking through the museum and realizing that these lives were cut short for no good reason is devastating. But it is also impressive to experience how far Rwanda has come in such a short period,”
For Higiro : “The 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi is very heartbreaking and leaves one with little to say in the face of such a great calamity.” She said
According to Rugangazi: “As we pay respect to more than one million lives lost during the genocide against the Tutsi, we are reminded that as Rwandans we shall continue to preserve our history and work towards continuous healing as we comfort our brothers and sisters that survived the tragedy,”.