President Kagame today led the nation in commemorating the genocide against the Tutsi for the 20th time, at Amahoro National Stadium. President Kagame, together with visiting world leaders who joined Rwandans during the commemoration, laid the wreaths in honor of the hundreds of victims laid to rest at the Gisozi Memorial Center before lighting the Kwibuka flame.
In his commemoration speech, President Kagame paid tribute the genocide survivors and Rwandans who defied the call to genocide and those who give voice to their remorse.
“We have pursued justice and reconciliation as best we could. But it does not restore what we lost. Time and again these past twenty years, Rwandans have given of themselves. You have stood before the community to bear witness and listened to others do the same. You have taken responsibility and you have forgiven. Your sacrifices are a gift to the nation. They are the seed from which the new Rwanda grows. Thank you for allowing your humanity and patriotism to prevail over your grief and loss. Thank you very much.”
President Kagame warned that People cannot be bribed or forced into changing their history and emphasized that no country is powerful enough, even when they think that they are, to change the facts:
“Historical clarity is a duty of memory that we cannot escape. Behind the words “Never Again”, there is a story whose truth must be told in full, no matter how uncomfortable. The people who planned and carried out the Genocide were Rwandans, but the history and root causes go beyond this country. This is why Rwandans continue to seek the most complete explanation possible for what happened. We do so with humility as a nation that nearly destroyed itself. But we are nevertheless determined to recover our dignity as a people.”
President Kagame pointed out that Africans are no longer resigned to being hostage to the world’s low expectations. He said that although Africans listen and respect the views of others, ultimately they have to be responsible for themselves:
“In Rwanda, we are relying on universal human values, which include our culture and traditions, to find modern solutions to our unique challenges. Managing the diversity in our society should not be seen as denying the uniqueness of every Rwandan. If we succeed in forging a new, more inclusive national identity, would it be a bad thing? We did not need to experience genocide to become a better people. It simply should never have happened. No country, in Africa or anywhere else, ever needs to become, quote, unquote, “another Rwanda”. But if a people’s choices are not informed by historical clarity, the danger is ever present.”
President Kagame asked Rwandans not to be diverted and know that the approach is as radical and unprecedented as the situation they faced.