Kagame recalls Africa’s efforts to end Rwanda genocide as the world looked away Updated for 2021

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Updated: March 1, 2021


President Paul Kagame of Rwanda on Sunday recalled the efforts by African nations and others, including Nigeria and the Czech Republic, to end the genocide in Rwanda shortly after it began 25 years ago in 1994, even as more powerful nations looked away.

President Paul Kagame of Rwanda attends the high level General Debate of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on 25 September 2018. Photo: EMMANUEL IKODOR, TODAY NEWS AFRICA

“We owe respect to those who had the courage to do the right thing; our people, other people that also stood up and made a difference – the ambassador from Czech Republic joined colleagues from New Zealand and Nigeria to call for action to stop the genocide despite the indifference of more powerful States,” Kagame said at an event to honor the more than 800 thousand Tutsi and moderate Hutus who died during the 100 days of slaughter.

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The massacre began after the plane carrying the Presidents of Rwanda and Burundi – both Hutus – was shot down in Kigali, killing both leaders on April 6, 1994.

The Hutus quickly blamed the Tutsi and began killing them with the help of the media and security forces.

The event on Sunday to honor those died 25 years ago was attended by about ten heads of state and dignitaries, including the President of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou; President of Congo, Denis Sassou Nguesso; President of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat; President of the European Union Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker; Former Presidents of Nigeria and South Africa, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and Thabo Mbeki, and the Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, amongst many others.

According to Osinbajo, who represented Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country at the event, the resurgence of hate speech, racism, nationalism and all of the identity type problems that is going on around the world today is frightening and a compelling reason to reflect on what happened in Rwanda 25 years ago.

Bill Clinton at a public appearance for Alliance for a Healthier Generation Press Conference, The William J. Clinton Foundation, New York, NY March 8, 2010. Photo By: Kristin Callahan/Everett Collection. He was President of the United States when the Rwanda genocide began and while it lasted.

Mr Osinbajo made the comments in an interview with journalists shortly after participating in the activities of the 25th Commemoration of the Rwandan Genocide held in Kigali on Sunday.

According to him, “the resurgence of hate speech is frightening for everyone we see in different countries not just in Africa and but also in Europe. 

“So, I think that there are many leaders today who want to ensure that we do not ever see a repeat of what happened, the genocide that happened here in Rwanda or any where else in the world for that matter.”

He said leaders across different sections of society must caution against acts that incite and cause disorder.

He said: “the only way is for us to recognize that experience, that is why the President Muhammadu Buhari has emphasized repeatedly that we must contain ourselves, especially in terms of speech that could  incite; inciting hate speech and all that.

“I think that it is important; that we recognise especially for the people, religious leaders, politicians, it is important that we recognise sometimes that it is easy to push things to the tipping point to create a situation just by inciting words, that we can actually create a situation that can completely go out of control.

“I think we have learnt, a lot of us, a lot of African countries do not want to see a repeat of what happened in Rwanda and if you listened to some of the speeches here today, it is very obvious that the wounds for Rwanda were very deep and they are still healing. So, at 25 years on, you can still feel the pain, you can still hear in their speeches, in their voices and in their experiences; this is still a very deep wound.”

The Vice President prayed that the world never experienced such a thing anywhere, but noted that, “it depends again on leadership and on how our leadership behave themselves.”

Earlier at the Kigali Genocide Memorial event, Vice President Osinbajo, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Former Nigerian President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, and other world leaders laid wreaths and performed the lighting of the memorial flame to mark the day.



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Simon Ateba
Simon Ateba
Simon Ateba covers the White House, the U.S. government, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions for Today News Africa in Washington D.C. Simon can be reached on simonateba@todaynewsafrica.com

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