By Valerie Taylor
We often say, “Never forget” when it comes to the genocides seen throughout the world. With current times as pressing as ever, we should be seeking out wisdom from the past and be reminded that such egregious acts upon humanity leave scars upon the future generations. AfroPros’ own Peter Tibasima Muteba sought to hear the echoes of the past, and so he went to the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre.
Located in Gisozi, Rwanda is the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre (KGM). This site is one of six major centres that are dedicated to commemorating the lives of thousands lost during the Rwandan genocides of 1994.
At the centre are three permanent exhibitions. The largest documents the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi people. The other two exhibitions are the children’s memorial and an exhibition on the history of genocide throughout the world. Not only does the centre serve as an educational institution, the remains of over 250,000 people are interred here.
On the KGM website, the five objectives of the memorial are explained as follows:
- To provide “a dignified place of burial” for victims of the Genocide against the Tutsi
- To inform and educate visitors about the causes, implementation and consequences of genocide
- To educate people how to prevent future genocides
- To provide documentation as evidence of genocide and testimonials from genocide survivors, as well as details on victims
- To provide support for genocide survivors, orphans and widows in particular
As visitors move through this guided experience, either by digital guide or with a knowledgeable staff member, the images and artifacts depicting the genocide will tug at your heartstrings. You will be reminded that we are all human. No matter where we are from, we are share the same emotions and sky.
An AfroPro’s Account
Here is a message from Peter Tibasima Muteba, founder of WISE, who visited KGM recently: (message has been translated from French)
“I went to KGM with the idea of visiting a museum or even an ordinary place. I had no idea that there rested the souls of thousands of victims of genocide. The emotion felt on that spot was beyond my expectations. Peace to their souls.
I can testify today that the evils of hatred, war, and genocide do not have borders… sooner or later, the consequences of war catch up with us all. Visiting the KGM, I didn’t feel Rwandan but human, concerned and reached by emotion, fear, and compassion…
I do not share my story but rather the story of thousands of children carried away by genocide. They could be children of my country, of your country–the children of the world. In memory of all these children, peace must become our priority. [Everyone] must contribute to peace in the world.
A positive aspect I noticed here is that there were people coming from all walks of life: America, Asia, and Europe. Guess what? I have never seen before this day a white man who cried over the situation that took place in Africa these past years. It was like a magic trick. The story filled us to the point that tears fell from all eyes. When you read a story of men, women, and children being killed without scruples, you directly feel concerned, regardless of your origin.
I observed a white couple crying with such strong emotion. The woman couldn’t believe her eyes. She was moved to the point of making her husband cry. My friend with whom I made the trip as failed to endure and preferred to wait for the rest of our group outside. She only viewed the introductory video and visited the first remembrance room.
There were more than ten rooms [and] each contained a particular story. From the Projection room to the Message room, we went through the history of genocide in an almost real dimension, but unfortunately didn’t go back in time to prevent this tragedy. I was more moved in children’s memory room, by the stories of Bernadin, Francine and others who never chose to be a native of Rwanda nor to be orphaned.
Peace should be supported through the world, and as such, promoting global consciousness and peace has to be an effort made by everyone. No single nation can drive back the forces of hatred and fear. Together, we must stand hand-in-hand and face the evils head-on. We cannot ignore the atrocities committed against fellow humans throughout the years, nor can be disregard the crimes happening now in the world.
As AfroPro Peter stated in his account, it doesn’t matter where you are from. If we can all be moved to tears, we can put aside our differences and see that peace and love will bring about a brighter future for all.