7 February 2013

Rwanda: Local Communities Central in 19th Genocide Commemoration

According to the Minister of Sports and Culture Protais Mitali, there will be some changes in this year's commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsis.

"As usual, the commemoration week will be held from April 7 to April 13. However, there won't be a commemoration ceremony at Amahoro Stadium; we want the commemoration week to be more people-centered which is why we have chosen to hold it at the village level."

Minister Mitali said that on the morning of April 7, the President and other high officials will pay tribute to the fallen at the Gisozi Genocide Memorial, where the Head of State will also light the Hope Candle which will burn for 100 days. Following that, the commemoration will be at the village level.

"There will be a message for the people from the President which will be followed by all the gatherings countrywide. We have found that the event at the Amahoro Stadium is attended by high officials and citizens living in the vicinity of the stadium only. We want everyone to participate," the Minister said, adding that the national event kind of distracted people from joining the commemoration on the local level. "Many wanted to follow the event live on TV and didn't join their local gatherings, and others were doing neither. We have brought this down to the village level so that everyone can participate actively."

In the afternoon of April 7, there will be a remembrance march by youth to the Amahoro stadium where a night vigil will take place. "We encourage that this will be done by youth at all levels," Mitali remarked.

During the commemoration week, no entertainment activities are allowed. The week will be concluded with the usual commemoration of politicians and other high officials who were killed during the Genocide.

The commemoration will be held under the theme 'Let's remember the Genocide against Tutsis striving for self-reliance.'

The Minister further said that the cabinet has studied ways through which people can commemorate in accordance with Rwandan traditions. "We found that traditionally Rwandans used ash to commemorate the dead. This is why we have also decided to adopt the color gray, although this doesn't mean that the purple is no longer allowed. You can use both but we encourage gray," Mitali explained.

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