Kigali Genocide Memorial – Remembering the 250,000 Rwandan Genocide Victims
Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre is a massive burial ground for an estimated 250,000 victims of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide that spread countrywide. The remains of a quarter million lives are entombed at this site, one of the many genocide memorial centres in Rwanda.
A visit to the memorial site, a major tourist place to visit in Rwanda brings a vivid of picture of massacres that engulfed the entire country as a result of ethnic hatred. The Kigali genocide memorial, the biggest in the country is among other several genocide centres in Rwanda. Rwanda has six major genocide memorial centres that honor the genocide. The genocide memorials include the Bisesero Genocide Memorial Centre, Murambi Memorial Centre and Ntarama Genocide Memorial Centre plus others at Nyamata and Nyarubuye.
The commemorative site found on Gisozi hill was opened formally on April 7, 2004, as the country marked the 10th anniversary of the 1994 genocide which claimed close to a million human lives. The memorial is the burial site set up in commemoration of 250,000 people that lost their lives during the holocaust. The site planning and management was done and still run by Aegis Trust, a UK-based charity organization on behalf of the National Commission for the Fight Against Genocide (CNLG). Aegis, means ‘trust/shield’ is a body that campaigns against crimes against humanity and genocide. Founded 2000, the organization does policy making, research, remembrance, education, media work plus crusades for public-spirited support for the victims.
The impressive building itself is an architectural marvel, as it is a place where the rich miserable history of the ethnic massacre is properly documented for generations to come. The memorial has a visitor centre for students plus those seeking to comprehend the historical events leading up to the 1994 genocide. Acting as a permanent monument to the genocide victims, the centre serves as a site for the bereaved to bury their beloved ones.
The memorial has the main historic exhibition where you walk through a corridor and get to read about the commencement of the genocide. It has the children’s memorial exhibition and a display on comparative genocide acknowledged as ‘Wasted Lives.’
The centre has about 4 acres of memorial gardens where you will find 10 mass graves plus the National Genocide Documentation Centre.
The Memorial Composition
The superlative prime building was designed to epitomize three different periods including before, during and after the genocide.
Our History Room
The main building is comprised of 3 exhibitions. The first room is titled, ‘Our History.” This one introduces Rwanda’s facts to the world. Visitors get to Rwandan history with huge pictures presenting persons of all ages, demonstrating the cultural lifestyle of the country prior to the genocide. Women breast breast-feeding their babies and old men playing their old-style games, different dresses, ways of life and the full-size image of Rwandan King Yuhi V Musinga impressively standing proudly tall.
In the sides of the images is a verse reading, “This is about our past and our future, our nightmares and our dreams, our fear and our hope, which is why we begin where we end, with the country we love.”
As you walk noiselessly from one display area to another via a series of corridors, you will read numerous short texts with comprehensive genocide information. You also feel terrifyingly upset as you silently mourn the precious lives lost. At this memorial center, you vividly get a glimpse of the life after death as images and live remains are seen in the midst of the place. Your genocide visit gives you a feeling that indeed this earthly life is too short.
There are also unedited original videos of the victims being butchered, testimonies of committers and survivors plus the Gacaca Court records are noticeably pinned on the walls all portraying the country’s ugly past.
Besides providing information about Rwanda genocide, the centre also describes the history of Rwanda that preceded the tragedy. There are comparisons with similar genocide sites in Germany,Cambodia, Japan and Bosnia. The Rwanda site lively demonstrates human remains plus the weapons and tools used in during the massacres. The Centre is global and deals with a topic of international significance with an extensive importance. It is planned to challenge and engage the visitor base internationally.
Descent to Genocide
As you move from “Our History Room,” you are led to the “Descent to Genocide” room. This one is a diffusely ignited room and characterized with graphic images of bones, dead bodies and the fatal victims of the countryside genocide.
There is a 3 feet image of mass grave at Kigali St. Famile on one side of the wall. This is where over 30,000 slaughter victims were scorched alive. You will read detailed information about how the catholic priests responsible for being custodians of human souls were on the other hand participated in the bloodbath of dozens of the Tutsis seeking safety in their churches.
Rwanda looking to the Time Ahead
Walking around the Centre is like turning the next page in a sad story book as you are eager to reach a section where the culprit is caught and brought to justice. This is when you arrive at the room designated “After the Genocide”.
And even when you reach, the word ‘Reactions’ is wholly inscribed in big capital letters. You will see a photo portraying a scene where several orphaned children are put together gazing into the camera manifesting little optimism for the future. Your mind is helplessly engulfed in a somber mood.
From here, you will continue to a globular hallway where a celebrated artist, Ardyn Halter, created two stained glass windows. These ones show a link between the survivors and Rwanda. The beginning of the genocide with skulls incised from the bottom to the top that modestly imply, a new Rwanda looking to the future.
During your tour, you will not miss rooms where people placed images of their loved ones. A room specifically devoted to blameless children who died during the genocide plus a quote reading, “We did not make ourselves orphans”. As you conclude your visit, you enter into the good-looking and complicated memorial gardens.
Memorial Gardens – A feeling of Calmness, Peace and Tranquility
The Memorial gardens have cascades with a rose garden. Each rose embodies a loved one lost but now blooming in the cheerful future of the current Rwanda. These gardens were premeditated to enable visitors sit outside in utter reflection. A sense of tranquility, harmony and peace swiftly clutches you during a stride through the gardens.
A good hope for the future is evident since all over is green and everything is promising, with each leaf presenting a sense of hope and a new brighter future. From here, you will finally go to the Documentation Centre.
The Documentation Centre
This is a place where many youths gather to debate, discuss, learn, get knowledge and deal with matters of how to prevent genocides similar to the one of 1994.
The memorial is establishing programmes for everyone to benefit from the development center with a major aim of reconciliation and unity. This one is a place where the victims of the genocide found a home.
Finally the management of the memorial centre states, “these are everyone’s places as much as Rwanda’s. They should remain as a warning for future generations, both in Rwanda and in the rest of the world about the consequences of hatred and division.”