In 1994, Angelique Mukaruzizi was a married woman with two kids. She lived in the former Kanzenze Commune which is now one cell making Ntarama Sector of Bugesera District.
Bugesera District, where she was born, was not her parents’ place of origin.
Her parents had been forced to there in the 1960s when the then government wanted them killed by Tsetse flies that had occupied the whole district.
“Bugesera was not a livable place, but our parents tried their best and survived,” says Mukaruzizi. “We grew up in very bad conditions of life,” she recounted.
When the genocide began, Tutsi in Bugesera, like in other places in the country, started being hunted down and killed.
“Our husbands resisted to the Interahamwe militia using traditional weapons but the resistance didn’t take long because the Interahamwe were helped by the government’s military who had guns and grenades. Those who survived then, we fled to the swamp where we were later were saved by the Rwanda Patriotic Army,” recounts Mukaruzizi.
Though Mukaruzizi survived the 1994 genocide against Tutsi, her parents, siblings, husband and two children were all killed.
Mukaruzizi was telling her story to the 32 staff of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Centre for Africa who visited the Ntarama memorial site on Friday afternoon, located in Bugesera District.
The staff also donated a cow to Drocelle Mukandoli, a genocide survivor.
In the Ntarama genocide memorial site rests thousands of victims who were killed there after they had gone to Ntarama Catholic parish seeking refuge there as they thought they could not be killed in the “sacred place”.
The 32 SDGs Centre for Africa staff laid a wreath of flowers on the grave to honor the victims who were laid to rest at Ntarama Memorial site.
The staff also donated a cow to Mukandoli, a 67-year old genocide survivor, who expressed her joy. She said the cow will change her life.
“I am happy, I will now be able to drink milk. My life will change. I will be selling it to satisfy my other needs,” said Mukandoli.
Dr. Belay Begashaw, the Director General for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Centre for Africa said that what happened in Rwanda is barbaric and proves how short the human beings memory can be considering the fact that it happened after only 50 years after the ‘Holocaust’.
“We have to remember the victims and show the solidarity to survivors,” he said.
Dr. Belay Begashaw added: “We want to talk to the people who if this happens in the range of 30 or 40 years period of time, it is always good to keep thinking, reminding and warning the current and the future generation because we are proven that human beings have a short memory on this and to keep talking about this is countering the genocide ideology that some of the people are pursuing knowingly or unknowingly.”
The Sustainable Development Goals are all about the wellbeing of the human beings. “It is one thing to help people develop themselves and also important to help people understand that this kind of action is intolerable and it should not happen,” Dr. Begashawa said at the memorial site.
He commended Rwanda for not having taken long in the tragic situation but turned into a country of pride only after 24 years.
He said: “It is encouraging to see that Rwanda has come far and it is wise to note how the Rwandan government has worked relentlessly to come out of this situation and heal the wounds through unity and reconciliation. This is a legacy to be celebrated. It’s difficult to forgive but it’s more difficult to forget but we have to move on. Most important is to work hard because hard work ensures a bright future.”