Rwanda Genocide Memorial : Rwanda known today as one of the leading Rwanda safari destinations to visit in East Africa is not as it was 28 years ago, this beautiful country known as the land of a thousand hills has a tragic history which greatly contributed to today’s Rwanda. In 1994, the tragic massive killing termed as the Rwanda genocide of 1994 spread through Rwanda from the rains of April to July. What was a tribal conflict turned extremely bloody and its aim was to wipe the land of Tutsi in a bid to purify the land.
As these Massive killings happened, no international forces even the USA or The USA dared to stop this evil from happening, the Rwandese themselves headed by the Paul Kagame the current president of Rwanda formed a movement that defeated the forces of the Ntarahamwe who were killing people in the name of cleansing the land.
By the time the genocide was put to an end in July 1994, Rwanda was a shadow of itself as there were dead bodies lined everywhere, on streets, churches and other areas. Some of these dead bodies were washed into Uganda by flowing river into Lake Victoria.
Due to the bloodshed, the world wide world sympathized and prayed for Rwanda Safari, but only the people of Rwanda can understand how tragic and scarily this period was. Up to today the slogan “Never Again” is still ring bells everywhere in Rwanda.
To remind the Rwandese and foreign visitors and also moderate the tragic and unfortunate massive killings that happened over Rwanda, several memorial sites were built across Rwanda. These memorial sites also act as tourist sites and they attract a huge number of tourists visiting the country to learn more about the genocide.
The Kigali Genocide Memorial Center
The Kigali Genocide Memorial Center is one of the biggest memorial centers in Rwanda and a sacred ground for the Rwandese and foreigners, this center was built and acts as a reminder that good will always overcome evil. While on visit on this site you will get a new perspective on life and is a lesson in forgiveness and reconciliation.
At The Kigali Genocide Memorial Center, the names of those who were killed in the genocide are written on the wall, there is a children’s section, the gardens with the children and the burial site which is covered over with concrete. Inside the center, there are letters and pictures of the victims
During the visit, you will have a guided walk through the site and these guides are usually genocide survivors with their own story to tell.
Gisenyi genocide Memorial Site
Built by the IBIKA survivor organization together with the Rwandan ministry of sports and culture, the Gisenyi genocide Memorial Site was one of the first memorial sites to be established in Rwanda. This site is found on the outskirts of Gisenyi which borders the North Kivu region of Democratic Republic of Congo, at first sight, the Gisenyi genocide memorial site appears to be a cemetery however it hosts the remains of over 12,000 victims killed during the genocide of 1994.
Near the genocide memorial site/ cemetery is the Commune Rouge an area where one of the infamous Nterahamwe Roadblack was located. Between April and May of 1994, there was a roadblock in this area called “Corniche” which is where the Tutsi’s were identified by their national identity card and appearance and then they were taken near the cemetery and the Nyando Community to be killed using crude machetes.
Nyamata Church Genocide Memorial Site
The Nyamata Church Genocide Memorial Site is located 35 kilometers from Kigali, in Bugesera district, this site is a church where over 10,000 people came in and around the church from 14th – 18th April 1994. These people were locked in and killed, today there are still bullet holes in the roof and blood spatters on the altar.
Once was a place to sing and rejoice, has become silent since then and is a reminder of the dark times that befell Rwanda, in the back of the church you can access the basement which is now catacomb-filled with rows of skulls, bones and coffins which are a reminder of the senselessness of hate.
At the main entrance of the church, there is a banner that translates to “if you had known me and you had really known yourself, you would not have killed me”.
Murambi Genocide Memorial Site
The Murambi Genocide Memorial Site is a very graphic display of the victims that were murdered during the 1994 Rwanda Genocide , in this site has contorted corpses as testimony that the genocide really took place.
Murambi Genocide Memorial site hosts an estimation of between 27,000 and 50,000 victims of the genocide, the site acts as a reminder of what took happened in the 100 days of darkness and hell that descended on Rwanda – the Land of Thousand hills.
Facts about the Rwanda Genocide of 1994
When the massive killings reached the Murambi area, thousands of the Tutsi fled their homes and ran to the Catholic church for refugee , however the then Bishop of the church insisted that they move from the church to a technical school in Murambi where they would get protection from the French Military.
On April 21, 1994, the Ntarahamwe descended on the school at Murambi and they killed thousands of the Tutsi who were hiding there, before the massacre the policemen who were there fled and the poor Tutsi were left with no protection
In addition to the mentioned genocide memorial sites, there are other sites including
- The Nyarubuye Church Memorial Site
- The Nyanza Genocide Memorial Site
- Ntarama Church Genocide Memorial Site
- Bisesero Genocide Memorial Site
- The Genocide Memorial in Rwanda