https://dfid.blog.gov.uk/2009/04/08/the-colour-purple/

The colour purple

A purple genocide memorial, reading: 'If you knew me and knew yourself, you wouldn't have killed me'
A purple genocide memorial, reading: 'If you knew me and knew yourself, you wouldn't have killed me'

Hundreds of people trudged up the long hill to Nyanza, many of them wearing something purple, a neckscarf, a wrap, even a purple wristband. The colour purple is the colour of mourning in Rwanda and yesterday, 7th April, was the 15th Anniversary of the Genocide. At the top of the hill I joined the large crowd at the Commemoration Ceremony. Wedged between two ambassadors, I heard heart breaking accounts from survivors of the massacre which took place on the site where we were seated, with no one to protect them against the brutal attacks of the militia. 

But it was the young people who moved me most: girls dressed in purple and white reciting poems in Kinyarwandan about the need to take courage for the future in spite of the sorrow and grief, and a youth choir with 'Never Again' emblazoned on their T-shirts and headbands, singing with emotion about the importance of never forgetting the genocide. And it was emotional. Even the Government Ministers were shedding tears, remembering their experiences and lost loved ones. I can't imagine it - one million people killed in 100 days: as the Lady Mayor of Kigali said 'an unspeakable evil' had gripped the country.

Inside Ntarama church
Inside Ntarama church

Last week I visited Ntarama church, a genocide site about twenty miles south of Kigali. Again, a terrible massacre, that took place in a church, a sacred building where people had fled for safety. The church has been preserved and the possessions of the victims are still there, clothes hanging over a beam, Bibles thrown in a box, jerry cans for water stacked on a shelf.

Am I blogging too much about the genocide? I don't think so - it absolutely defines everything about Rwanda. 1994 was Year Zero for this country: a million people dead, infrastructure and services destroyed, and a society torn in two. But looking back after 15 years you can see real progress; 95% of primary school children are enrolled in class, women MPs outnumber the male MPs, and poverty levels falling. As the President said in his speech today; 'Remember the past, yes; but help the country build the future'.

5 comments

  1. Titus GAKWAYA

    RWANDA'S CASE, THE GENOCIDE IN THE 21st CENTURY WHEN THE UN HAD BEEN INFORMED, AS KOFI ANNAN ACCEPTED,AND THE POWERFUL WESTERN NAATIONS HAD DESPATCHED FORCES TO PROTECT THEIR NATIONALS RESIDENT IN RWANDA,AAND EVACUATED THEM, THEN LEFT THE RWANDANS TO DIE,YET CONTINUE TO GIVE HOMES TO THE GENOCIDE PLANNERS AND EXECUTORS- IS THIS NOT THE IRONY OF THE MODERN YET BACKWARD AGE, DOUBLE STANDARDS,SERVING OWN INTERESTS. THERE IS HOPE FOR RWANDANS AND OTHERS IF THEY CAN STAND UP AND LOOK TO THEIR OWN LIBERATION AND PROGRESS! IMAGINE THE RWANDA OF TODAY OF AALL RWANDANS. IF THE GACACA COURTS HAD NOT TRIED THE CASES AND WE RELIED ON THE WESTERN WHEN WOULD IT BE OVER? LOOK AT THE ICTR IN ARUSHA, HOW MANY AND WHAT PROGRESS? THE WORLD WOULD BE A BETTER PLACE IF THE TRUTH AND JUSTICE CAN BE WHAT THEY SHOULD BE.THE ICC SHOULD NOW AFTER THE 15 YEARS OF THE RWANDAN GENOCIDE KNOW WHOM TO ARREST! NOT LIKE THE FRENCH JUDGE! ARE ALL FREE AND STRONG NATIONS WITH THE OPEN AND CLEAR LENSES UNLESS BLINDED BY THE NATIONAL PRIDE? RWAND HAS THE JUSTICE SYSTEM THAT IT NEVER HAD IN HER COLONIAL AND INDIPENDENT YEARS (if we can say so).LET RWANDA TRY THE FREE AND THE DETAINED GENOCIDE PLANNERS AND EXECUTORS. THEN THE WORLD WOULD LEARN THE REAL JUSTICE. NOT FROM HAGUE OR OTHER COURTS KEEPING GENOCIDAIRES FREE FOR 15 YEARS. JUSTICE DELAYED (15 years), IS JUSTICE DENIED. THERE IS HOPE.

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  2. Global Voices Online » Rwanda: Fifteen years after the genocide

    [...] Department for International Development) in Rwanda attended the ceremonies in Nyanza, which he described in his blog: Hundreds of people trudged up the long hill to Nyanza, many of them wearing something [...]

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  3. Global Voices in Italiano » Ruanda: il genocidio, quindici anni dopo

    [...] per lo Sviluppo Internazionale (DFID) in Ruanda ha preso parte alla cerimonia di Nyanza di cui parla [in] nel suo blog: Centinaia di persone si sono arrampicate lungo la collina di Nyanza, molte [...]

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  4. Global Voices in Swahili » Rwanda: Miaka kumi na tano baada ya mauaji ya Kimbari

    [...] Maendeleo ya Kimataifa (DFID) nchini Rwanda alishiriki katika kumbukumbu zilizofanyika Nyanza, na anaelezea kwenye blogu yake: Mamia ya watu walitembea polepole kwa huzuni kubwa kupitia njia ndefu [...]

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  5. Media Channel 2.0 — Blog — Rwanda: Fifteen Years After the Genocide

    [...] Department for International Development) in Rwanda attended the ceremonies in Nyanza, which he describes in his blog: Hundreds of people trudged up the long hill to Nyanza, many of them wearing something [...]

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