Written by Tim Hawkes - 1st July
We saw the President! Ok, Ok, it was but for a nano-second as he whisked past us in a black limo surrounded by outriders and flashing lights. He was en route to the Stadium to give an address at the 50th Anniversary celebration of Rwanda gaining independence on 1st July 1962.
His speech was heard in snatches over the radio. It was more noble than charismatic. More reflection than celebration. Small wonder. There has not been a Rwandan I have spoken to that has not lost a relative in the 1994 genocide.
A waiter quietly telling us his mother was murdered. A painter confessing to losing both his grandparents at the hands of torturers. The Sunday Times No 338, Kigali, Sunday July 1, 2012 runs a front page story on Denmark extraditing Emmanuel Mborushimana, a former inspector of schools no less, to face multiple murder charges alleged during the genocide.
Given that only seven genocide fugitives have been brought back from overseas by the Genocide Fugitive Tracking Unit (GFTU) in the last 18 years, it is tempting to think that there has been little justice. This is not quite true. Village courts have been operating up until a month or two ago, hearing the confessions of their own villagers and seeking reparations from them if they have been implicated in the genocide.
More significantly, the lack of convictions hints at a country whose capacity for forgiveness is extraordinary. Rwanda wants to move on. The words 'Tutsi' and 'Hutu' cannot be spoken. The President said so.
We worship in a packed Kigali church. The singing is wonderful and the sermon is on Leviticus Chapter 25 - the year of the Jubilee - the 50th year that calls for men and women to return home and wipe out all debts. There could not have been better text.
This year, it was declared that genocide is a thing of the past - something to sober and warn us. It was declared that it was no longer possible to be Rwandan refugee, because there is nothing to flee from - unless you are a genocide killer, for the GFTU is still active.
Looking at school buildings being constructed, seeing the stately purpose of those carrying their offering on their heads and hearing the words of the President, brings to mind the Old Testament injunction to rebuild the ruins, to raise the walls and restore the breaches in the nation.
I suppose that's what we are trying to help with.
The Rwandan Flag
The Rwandan flag was adopted on October 25, 2001. The Rwandan flag was created to replace the previous one that had been in use since 1961, just before Rwanda gained independence from Belgium on July 1, 1962. The government wanted to disassociate the former flag from the country's genocide of 1994, when ethnic violence ravaged the land.
The blue stripe represents happiness and peace. The yellow symbolises the country's mineral wealth and economic development and green symbolises the country's natural resources and prosperity. The sun stands for unity, transparency and enlightenment from ignorance.
Source: World Flags 101.com
Read the President's 50th Anniversary speech here.