On 30th anniversary of genocide, Rwanda's evangelicals envision lasting reconciliation

By Jim Olang |
30th anniversary of Rwanda genocide
KIGALI, RWANDA - APRIL 07: Young Rwandans take part in a candle lit vigil on the first of 100 days of remembrance as Rwanda commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Tutsi genocide on April 7, 2024 in Kigali, Rwanda. During a roughly 100-day period in 1994, hundreds of thousands of members of the Tutsi ethnic group were killed by Hutu militias, during the the country's civil war. | Luke Dray/Getty Images

As Rwanda commemorated the 30th anniversary of the genocide this past week, the nation has been confronted with reminders of its painful history.

Following the shooting-down of the plane of then-President Juvenal Habyarimana who was ethnic Hutu, Hutu extremists blamed the Tutsi rebel group, the Rwandan Patriotic Front, and started an organized killing campaign across the country. In just 100 days, over 800,000 people, mostly Tutsis along with some moderate Hutus, were killed by the Hutu extremists.

A report by the Associated Press pointed to recent discoveries of new mass graves in rural southern Rwanda that serve as symbols of the ongoing struggle for reconciliation and healing, even after thirty years.

On the day of commemoration, Rwanda's President Paul Kagame led a ceremony at the genocide memorial. It's where the bones of more than a quarter of a million people murdered in the genocide are believed to be buried. Addressing the international community he said, "It was the international community which failed all of us, whether from contempt or cowardice."

French President Emmanuel Macron acknowledged that France and its allies could have stopped the 1994 Rwanda genocide. In a video released on Rwanda's commemoration day, Macron commented on France's complicity during the genocide. "France, which could have stopped the genocide with its Western and African allies, lacked the will to do so," he admitted.

Reflecting on the role of the Church in Rwanda's journey toward reconciliation, Rev. Esron Manigraba, the General Secretary of the Evangelical Alliance of Rwanda, emphasized the significant contribution of religious institutions. In a comments to Christian Daily International, Rev. Esron pointed to the Church's intervention mechanisms amidst the prevailing tales of despair and trauma.

"The Church has played a big role in promoting forgiveness and reconciliation. Understandably, the government cannot achieve that alone which was seen after the genocide. It was the journey together to see unity, communities reconciled that resulted in the current cohesion," he said.

He highlighted the importance of instilling values of human dignity among church members, emphasizing that such teachings are essential for future advocacy and the prevention of indifference toward the suffering of others.

For the future, he expressed hope, stating that "this lesson is for the members of the churches as well as clergy to avoid future silence and sadistic attitudes and feel sorry for what happened. We must pray and pledge to obey Him even during tough situations."