I did not want to go the children’s room at the Kigali Genocide Memorial.
The room is dedicated to the memory of children killed in the Genocide against the Tutsi. I had reached the entrance and couldn’t get the strength to enter. My mouth had a sad taste. The same taste I have when writing this article. My small sister came and found me looking at the pictures in the exhibition room.
She asked “Have you gone to the children section?”
I replied “I don’t want to go to the room alone.”
So she accompanied me.
I entered, moving from one picture to another. The face of handsome and beautiful innocent children crushed me entirely. Right next to their picture is a snippet listing their name, age, favorite game, favorite food, favorite toys, behavioral characteristics and manner in which they were killed. Some killed by machetes, knife poked in the eye or crushed by a stone. The way they died was inhumane you could hardly believe. The way everybody died during the genocide was inhumane.
The Kigali Genocide Memorial documents the genocide and describes the history of Rwanda that preceded the event. The genocide, also known as the genocide against the Tutsi, was a mass slaughter of Tutsi, Twa, and moderate Hutu in Rwanda, which took place between 7 April and 15 July 1994 during the Rwandan Civil War. The memorial is a permanent memorial to those who fell victim to the genocide and serves as a place in which the bereaved could bury their family and friends. It has over 250,000 human remains and the tools and weapons used in their destruction.
Kwibuka means ‘to remember’ and describes the annual commemoration. Last year marked the 25th commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
The upstairs floor includes three permanent exhibitions, the largest of which documents the genocide in 1994, the children’s memorial and an exhibition on the history of genocidal violence around the world. The Education Centre, Memorial Gardens and National Documentation Centre of the Genocide contribute to a meaningful tribute to those who perished and form a powerful educational tool for the next generation.
Spot the Rwanda flag in front of KGM Souvenir shop.
The Kigali Memorial Centre is international. It deals with a topic of international importance, with far-reaching significance, and is designed to engage and challenge an international visitor base. Testimonials from survivors are exhibited in videos at the start and end of your tour. Forgiveness. They preach and sing forgiveness. Rwandese have and continue to forgive each other.
It spikes and questions the intelligence of many who want to understand what really happened. In real sense, you can’t understand because there are things as human beings we can’t fully comprehend and understand.
For sure, there is something about such atrocities that you can’t explain. Like this genocide, but when documented and exhibited in museums like the Kigali Genocide Memorial it makes us not want war. It reminds us each and every day the cost of war. Eventually, we realize peace is what we want and need to foster and prosper.
“There will be no humanity without forgiveness. No forgiveness without justice. But, justice will be impossible without humanity.” Yolande Mukagasana
Information when visiting the Centre.
- Entry is free.
- Audio headphones rented at $10 includes background on the divisive colonial experience in Rwanda.
- Pictures allowed inside the Centre at a fee of $20.
- Tour guides available on request.
- All proceeds help in maintaining the Centre.
Kigali Memorial Genocide is a MUST visit on your Rwanda trip.