Yanditswe January, 11 2014 at 00:10 AM |
The Kwibuka Flame (Flame of Remembrance) today travelled to Nyange School in Ngororero district, the first stop on its tour of Rwanda.
The flame was received by hundreds of students and residents of Nyange sector.
At the event, President of the Senate Hon Jean Damascene Ntawukuriryayo, urged Nyange residents to remain united to move forward and develop the country.
“The Genocide against the Tutsi was a result of sectarian politics. Today’s government promotes unity and delivers development for all. Let’s all strive to be heroes in our own way; we should never allow anyone to take us back to the dark history of divisionism,” he said.
The Nyange region is known for two dark episodes in its history. During the genocide, victims had gathered at the local parish to seek refuge. On 18 April 1994, 3000 people were killed inside with a bulldozer, ordered by the church’s priest Athanase Seromba. He was subsequently sentenced by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and is serving a jail term in Benin.
In the years after the end of the genocide, Rwanda came under threat from genocidaires who used refugee camps in the the Democratic Republic of Congo to launch attacks on the country. On 18 March 1997, Phanuel Sindayiheba and his classmates refused to be divided when a group of armed men told them to separate into Hutu and Tutsi, replying ‘We are Rwandans’. Six of his friends and a school guard were killed and Phanuel sustained significant injuries, but their bravery saved the lives of many.
The unity shown by the students represents the new Rwanda today.
After receiving the Kwibuka Flame, a group of young students performed the Urumuri Rutazima song. The Kwibuka short film ‘Remember, Unite, Renew’ featuring fellow school attack survivor Theodette Abayisenga was also shown.
Phanuel Sindayiheba told his community how they were shot at by militia because they refused to separated, and explained how the unity of Nyange students was the result of government policy and the school’s leadership.
Ngororero Mayor Gedeon Ruboneza noted that the Ndi Umunyarwanda (I am Rwandan) program was already in place at Nyange School at the time of the attack.
The Kwibuka Flame symbolises remembrance as well as the resilience and courage of Rwandans over the past twenty years. Carried in a simple lamp, it will be used to light other lamps in communities around Rwanda. To mark the 20th commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi, all memorial fires throughout the country will stem from this single Kwibuka Flame.
When it returns to Kigali, President Paul Kagame will use the Kwibuka Flame to light the National Flame of Mourning. This will take place on 7 April 2014, marking the official beginning of the national mourning period. The flame will also be the source of the fire used at the candlelit vigil at Amahoro Stadium on the evening of 7 April 2014.
The flame will now travel to Kamonyi where it will be met by the community on Monday 13 January 2014.