Today I visit the Kigali Memorial Center.The Centre is built on a site where over 250,000 people are buried. These graves are a clear reminder of the cost of violence and hate.
The Center also helps to explain how 85% of the Tutsi population were
killed, the history, the development of hate ideology. Also there are
examples of other genocides. It is the children's rooms which are the
emotional rollercoaster for me and others. On the walls are photos with
their likes and dislikes, one exhibit features fourteen windows, each
featuring the face of a child killed during the genocide. One of these
children is Francine Murengezi Ingabire, pictured here. At the end of
the room is a balcony with rose garden is at the end, each rose for
each victim, some comfort for the grieving.
My heart is full and the tears fall, we move silently each preoccupied with our own thoughts.
Thank you Aegis Trust, this is more than a Memorial, it also conveys hope, dignity and love.
The gardens are beautiful, with flowers, waterfalls and statues and
each one having a theme. They take you on a journey beginning with the
graves, the names and ending with the hope of a shared future.
The first garden has a waterfall for life a flame lit on a beacon every
year for the 100 days, symbolizing their grief and a elephant for
The vision of new Rwanda with unity and reconciliation is here, even a
international garden with a monkey holding a mobile phone. Before the
international community was silent, now the communication with the rest
of the world is important.
In the reconciliation garden I stop, overcome with emotion and share
with Pat Magee, This is such a privilege. He says No, it is a privilege
to be with you in the reconciliation garden, said with tears in his
We took twice as long as we were told to but I would love to go back. I
was there with my friend Jean Paul Samputu a survivor and a musician and
someone who has forgiven his friend who killed his family. he was the
inspiration for the conference I was attending. He hugged me and said he
would meet me at the end, if he went in he would have to forgive all
over again. I understand that.
I leave thinking how can it happen, and realise it is very possible. We
all have that potential to follow the ideology of hate ending at a place
where the 'other' is beyond human. This was reinforced in Rwanda by the
radio and tv telling the Hutu's they had to kill or they would be
killed. They talked of the Tutsi people as cockroaches and snakes who
were evil. Now there are only the people of Rwanda, the identity cards
all say the same.
Today I commit again and again, to see the humanity in all, to
acknowledge everyone and to work so that it doesn't happen again. I
commit to tell the world of the beautiful people I met in Rwanda with
their deep humanity and dignity. I also want to tell the people in
Rwanda, please tell me your story, I care.