Kigali Serena Hotel staff on Friday visited the Nyanza Memorial Centre in Kicukiro District to pay tribute to the victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsis.
At the memorial, the hotel’s staff laid wreaths in honour of the 11,050 victims that are buried at the site, and were given explanations on what happened there in April 1994.
At that time, over 3,000 Tutsi refugees from around Kigali including Kicukiro and Kanombe camped at ETO Kicukiro under the protection of Belgian UN troops, who formed the backbone of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR).
However, the troops pulled out of Rwanda on April 11, 1994, following the murder of ten Belgian soldiers by government forces. So the 97 Belgian peacekeepers based at ETO Kicukiro withdrew, leaving the refugees at the mercy of the marauding militia.
“Some of the young refugees we were with lay down in front of the vehicles, begging the soldiers to stay. But the troops shot in the air and drove off in their jeeps. Their departure meant the genocidal government forces and Interahamwe militia who had surrounded the place since a couple of days had the green light to enter and kill as they wished,” remembered Sophie Musabeyezu, who is in charge of maintaining the site.
Led by Country Manager Daniel Sambai, the Serena Hotels Rwanda employees observed a minute of silence in honour of the victims.
Sambai noted that honouring Genocide victims is important for the hotel staff to remember what happened during the Genocide and ensure that it never happens again. He also assured the hotel’s commitment to supporting Genocide survivors.
The staff later gathered at Kigali Serena Hotel where Colonel Jules Rutaremara, the head of the Rwanda Peace Academy, and Vedaste Nsabimana, the Nyarugenge District vice-mayor in Charge of Economic Affairs, were present for a commemoration event.
Some of the staff at the hotel who are survivors of the genocide, including Bernadette Bampire and Francois Xavier, shared their stories, while Rutaremara and Nsabimana urged the staff not be weakened by the country’s history but instead to look beyond that and focus on the future.
They advised the staff to have the same vision, and not give room to genocide ideology.
Read this article and more in issue n° 74 of Hope Magazine.