President Kagame and Mrs Kagame on Wednesday took part in ceremonies to mark the 16th anniversary of the start of the genocide. President Kagame and Mrs Kagame participated in a solemn event at the Kigali Memorial Centre where, joined by young people representing families of survivors, they laid a wreath at the graves of victims of the genocide, and lit a flame that will burn for the following hundred days, before joining thousands of Rwandans and guests for the official commemoration at the Amahoro National stadium.
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In his address, President Kagame thanked the guests who attended the commemoration ceremony and also expressed appreciation to their countries for sending them to join Rwandans in commemorating the genocide. He also thanked countries which were holding remembrance events in solidarity with Rwandans.
President Kagame said that remembering is a must and an obligation, adding that people must dutifully forgive those who sincerely seek for forgiveness. “Why must we always remember? We must do so because that which caused us the pain is bad politics, bad politicians and bad leaders. Bad politics that killed people,” he said, castigating those who tried to play with the numbers of those who perished during the genocide. He said that there is no difference between the loss of 500,000 and one million lives because either way, the politics of killing is bad politics.
President Kagame pointed out that what befell Rwanda was a direct result of the convergence of bad internal politics and bad international politics and urged Rwandans to take charge of developing the right national politics; “As Rwandans – we have no power to change bad international politics, but we have the power to change bad politics of our country and that is where we should concentrate our efforts.”
President Kagame urged Rwandans not to be consumed by their grief and pain but instead draw strength from remembrance and endeavour to be better people –better than those who caused the suffering; “… in our grief and tears, let’s be happy, laugh and clap for ourselves. Joy and remembrance should go hand in hand – one does not erase the other. Let remembering not deny us pride and happiness at who we are and our willingness to build ourselves.”
President Kagame pointed out that because of what Rwandans have experienced, no one has the moral authority to impose lessons on issues like rights, freedoms and democracy because Rwandans know enough of these already. The President noted the absurdity and contradiction of those who persistently claim that there is no freedom of expression in Rwanda, whereas there are individuals who freely and regularly write whatever they want including all manner of insults, lies and abuse, without any consequences.
Concerning the numerous problems facing genocide survivors, President Kagame said that the government is constantly seeking appropriate solutions to their plight. He warned those who disrupt efforts to assist survivors through misappropriation of resources and poor implementation of programs and assured Rwandans that the government would deal with this in the framework of continued efforts to uproot the legacy of bad politics which failed to hold leaders to account.