Tearfund’s country representative in Rwanda reflects on the journey the nation has made in the 25 years since the genocide. It’s a journey he has had to take too...
April marks the 25th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. During 100 days of bloodshed, around 800,000 people were killed – mostly from the Tutsi ethnic group, at the hands of Hutu extremists.
To mark this solemn occasion, the nation has chosen a full hundred days of remembrance. ‘It's revisiting the horrors of the genocide and remembering those who perished,’ explains Emmanuel Murangira, Tearfund’s Country Representative for Rwanda.
‘But the days that follow will focus on reconciliation and discussions on how to prevent another genocide in the future. There will be activities to help people come out of despair and hopelessness.’
Their story, my story
The journey from despair to hope, via reconciliation is one that Emmanuel identifies with. Although his parents are Rwandan Tutsis, he was born in exile in 1965, due to an earlier wave of persecution. He grew up in a refugee settlement in Tanzania, before being sent to school in Kenya, where his refugee status stayed with him.
‘I'd grown up a bitter young man because of the difficulties of being a refugee. You really feel it; you're excluded – excluded and marginalised.’
He finally came to Rwanda as an adult, shortly after the massacre, in search of the rest of his relatives. He discovered over a hundred of them had been killed, with only a few surviving.
‘In that way I came face-to-face with the genocide. I felt I'd been denied an opportunity to an extended family.
‘I was angry. If I had an opportunity to revenge, that would be something that I would have done. It crossed my mind several times.’