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Rwandans in Ghana mark 25th anniversary of genocide

BY: Edward Acquah
Mr Stanislas Kamanzi (3rd left), Rwandan Ambassador to Ghana, interacting with some Rwandans and other officials after the event. Picture: GABRIEL AHIABOR
Mr Stanislas Kamanzi (3rd left), Rwandan Ambassador to Ghana, interacting with some Rwandans and other officials after the event. Picture: GABRIEL AHIABOR

Scores of Rwandans from all parts of the country converged on Accra last Saturday to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the genocide that tore their country apart, leaving close to a million people dead.

Organised by the Rwandan Community in Ghana, in collaboration with the Rwandan High Commission, the annual ceremony was for the participants to remember, mourn and pay their respects to the souls that were slain during the tragic period.

The event, on the theme: “Remember, Unite, Renew”, was in line with other remembrance activities in Rwanda following the declaration of a 100 days of mourning by its President, Paul Kagame.

President Kagame and other Heads of State, on April 7, laid wreaths and attended the lighting of the remembrance flame at the Kigali Genocide Memorial to signal the start of the mourning period which coincides with the duration of the brutal campaign of killings in 1994.

Last Saturday’s ceremony was attended by scores of dignitaries, including the Rwandan High Commissioner, Mr Stanislas Kamanzi, who is based in Nigeria; the Ambassador of Niger to Ghana, Dr Alhoussein Ousmane, and the Ethiopian Ambassador to Ghana, Mr Regassa Kefale Ere.

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Activities

The ceremony started with a “walk to remember” from the China Europe International Business School (CEIBS), the place of convergence, to the Emmanuel Eye Clinic (about 1.5km), both within East Legon in Accra.

The silent walk, under the scorching sun at midday, was for the participants to soberly reflect on the pain and grief suffered by their compatriots within three months of the mass slaughter.

Later in the day, they gathered at the CEIBS and were joined by other dignitaries, where they observed a minute’s silence for the departed souls and lit a candle to symbolise hope and perseverance beyond the tragedy.

There was a sombre mood in the auditorium when a video that captured aspects of the brutal killings and the accounts of some survivors was shown.

Most of the participants, some of whom witnessed the massacre, could not hold back their tears during the 15-minute clip.

Shortly after, another video detailing the extent to which Rwanda had moved on in terms of technological, infrastructural and socio-economic development 25 years after the mass killings was shown.

Never again

Describing the 1994 incident as “horrendous”, Mr Kamanzi said the country had resolved to embrace love and unity at all times and that it would never return to its awful past.

He urged Rwandan youth to learn the history of the country to enable them to come to terms with how far Rwanda had come and the need for them to chart a course that would help in achieving the country’s transformational agenda.

Mr Kamanzi, however, expressed concern over what he described as the lack of interest on the part of many African governments to participate in the commemoration activities.

“Every year, we invite many leaders but only a few come to mourn with us.

The commemoration is not for Rwandans alone.

It is for the world to remember what happened and the need for us to embrace unity everywhere,” he said.

For his part, the Chairman of the Rwandan Community in Ghana, Mr Francois Xavier Bikorimana, thanked his compatriots for responding to the call, which made the ceremony successful.