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Rwanda: Churches called to comfort genocide survivors

President Paul Kagame lights the Flame of Remembrance at the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre to mark the beginning of the 22nd commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. Courtesy photo.

Rwanda President Paul Kagame has with the First Lady Jeannette Kagame led the country in commemorating the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi by laying a wreath and lighting a flame of remembrance at Kigali Genocide Memorial in Gisozi on Saturday.

Local media says the Flame of Remembrance will burn for 100 days during the mourning period to symbolise the courage and resilience of Rwandans after the Genocide.

According to Gospel Times – Rwanda, religious groups have been urged to play their role in comforting and healing the wounded hearts of genocide survivors during and after the 100 days.

“As we observe 100 days of mourning, we call upon churches, church leaders, ministries, forums to involve in their programs healing concept and reconciliation workshops,” Pastor Joseph Nyamutera, the president of Rabagirana Ministries told the news outlet.

Nyamutera explained that previously some churches would stay silent and inactive during the mourning period, “it’s high time they committed and [expressed] concern to advocate and sensitise for healing the wounded people,” he said.

In his speech, President Paul Kagame said: “Rwanda has changed for good and forever, and will not be the same,”

“We must keep rebuilding, increase our strength at every level: economically, security, and ensure our society is functioning well. This will help us to be resilient despite our bad history,” he added.

The 24th anniversary of the 1994 Genocide was observed under the theme “remember, unite, and renew.”

About the genocide

The Rwandan genocide, also known as the genocide against the Tutsi, was a genocidal mass slaughter of Tutsi in Rwanda by members of the Hutu majority government. An estimated 800,000 – 1,000,000 Rwandans, according to the BBC, were killed during the 100-day period from 7 April to mid-July 1994, constituting as many as 70% of the Tutsi population.

The genocide and widespread slaughter ended when the Tutsi-backed and heavily armed Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) led by Paul Kagame took control of the country. An estimated 2,000,000 Rwandans, mostly Hutus, were displaced and became refugees.

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