Rwanda: KCB Rwanda Throws Weight Behind Bid to Preserve Ntarama Genocide Memorial

KCB Bank Rwanda Plc staff, on April 30, visited Ntarama Genocide Memorial site in Bugesera District to commemorate 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and donated Rwf2 million to help in the preservation of the site.

At the memorial, the bank's staff members learnt about the history of genocide in the area and laid wreaths on mass graves.

Over 5,000 bodies are buried at the site, many of them killed from the small Catholic Church, which is now part of the memorial.

The Managing Director of KCB Bank Rwanda, George Odhiambo, told staff who visited the memorial sites should learn a lesson from genocide history to ensure genocide never happens again.

KCB Bank Rwanda employees visited Ntarama Genocide Memorial to commemorate and pay their respects to those who lost their lives during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

"There are so many lessons to learn when we come to visit this site. Lesson number one is the lesson of harmony and peace, how people should live together in peace.

The other lesson is a lesson of leadership, what leadership can do, create and what leadership can destroy. What happened in 1994 and before was due to the leadership of segregation. We thank the government for taking care of memorial sites. History is a very good teacher, if we forget we risk going back to where we came from," he said.

He reiterated that remembering the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi as done every year will continue to teach lessons to future generations.

"As the country moves forward, we cannot move and forget our past. Our past is very important. As leadership says never again genocide, we have to say the same 'never again'. When you hear about the testimony, stories of how children and their parents killed during the genocide, it is not something that should happen again," he said.

He said that genocide memorials sites should be well maintained to keep the memory and lauded KCB staff who donated to preserve.

"The memory and history of the people who are laid to rest on the memorials should not be forgotten and will help future generations to learn. We believe that the job being done to preserve history in a digital way will help. In many years ahead, people will be learning from recorded witnesses," he added.

Ntarama survivor's testimony

Genocide survivor Alphonse Habimana was five years old during 1994 genocide against the Tutsi.

Many of his family members were killed in a small Catholic Church which is now part of the memorial.

"Our home was located around the church and we used to come to pray in the church. We were a family of six members but I survived with my two sisters and father," he said.

Habimana says that when the genocide started in the area, men tried to fight against Interahamwe militia attacks but because some of militia had guns, they killed many Tutsi.

"In the early morning, women and children entered the church seeking refuge. We started singing gospel music. I was in the church. My mother and kid were killed in the church in my eyes. Interahamwe militia cut me on the head with a machete. I run and hid in the garden around our home. I regained consciousness in the evening," he narrated.

He said that his father who was among the group to resist Interahamwe attacks hid the children in swamps.

"We spent over two months hiding in the bush until Inkotanyi arrived and rescued us," he said.

The survivor is still suffering genocide scars.

Brave Olivier Ngabo, a programme manager at IBUKA -an umbrella organisation of Genocide survivors- thanked KCB for support in preservation of Ntarama genocide memorial site and urged genocide survivors to continue sharing testimonies as a tool to fight against genocide deniers and ensure genocide never happens again.

"We recognize the way KCB takes into account commemoration activities. The genocide survivors testimonies is a way of educating people who visit memorial sites about the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, how it was planned and executed, the need for efforts heal survivors' trauma and build their resilience," he said.

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