’Our people will never be left for dead again’: President Kagame vows as Rwanda marks #Kwibuka30

By Wycliffe Nyamasege
On 8 April 2024 at 06:56

President Paul Kagame stated that the atrocities of 1994 will never be allowed to occur again, as the country marked the 30th commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi on Sunday, April 7, 2024.

In his strongly-worded statement, the leader of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) declared that the Rwandan people are ready to confront any attempt to drag the country backward, given the milestones achieved over the last 30 years.

“Today, it is all Rwandans who have conquered fear. Nothing can be worse than what we have already experienced. This is a nation of 14 million people, who are ready to confront any attempt to take us backwards. The Rwandan story shows how much power human beings have within them. Whatever power you do have, you might as well use it to tell the truth and do what is right,” President Kagame stated.

President Kagame emphasized that the only choice for survivors of the genocide is to live, giving the example of a brave woman who defiantly spat in the face of her killers, when they demanded she choose how she wanted to die.

"During the genocide, people were sometimes given the option of paying for a less painful death. There is another story I learned about at the time, which always sticks in my mind, about a woman at a roadblock, in her final moments.

“She left us a lesson that every African should live by. When asked by the killers how she wanted to die, she looked them in the eye, and spit in their face. Today, because of the accident of survival, our only choice is what life we want to live. Our people will never — and I mean never — be left for dead again,” President Kagame vowed.

He blamed the international community for the killing of more than one million people in 1994, saying the foreign powers failed to act due to contempt or cowardice.

“Many of the countries represented here today also sent their sons and daughters to serve as peacekeepers in Rwanda. Those soldiers did not fail Rwanda; it was the international community which failed all of us, whether from contempt or cowardice,” he said while recognizing the role of the soldiers who served as peacekeepers in Rwanda during the genocide.

“Among those here with us today, I salute the widow and daughter of the late Captain Mbaye Diagne of Senegal, who died a hero as he rescued many Rwandans from death.”

The Head of State further expressed confidence in the country’s future, stating that it is secure in the hands of the youth, who possess a mindset distinct from that of previous generations.

“Nearly three-quarters of Rwandans today are under age 35. They either have no memory of the genocide, or were not yet born,” he stated.

“Our youth are the guardians of our future and the foundation of our unity, with a mindset that is totally different from the generation before.”

At the same time, Kagame told off critics of the commemoration events, insisting that the country will continue to hold the events in honour of more than one million lives lost during the genocide.

The President stated that contrary to views held by some quarters, Kwibuka is not merely a political tactic.

“Over time, in the media controlled by the powerful in this world, victims are rebranded as villains, and even this very moment of commemoration is derided as a mere political tactic. It is not. It never has been. Our reaction to such hypocrisy is pure disgust.

“We commemorate because those lives mattered to us. Rwandans cannot afford to be indifferent to the root causes of genocide. We will always pay maximum attention, even if we are alone. But what we are seeking is solidarity and partnership to recognize and confront these threats together, as a global community,” he added.

Several heads-of-state and government attended the commemoration event today. Some of the leaders include Israeli President Isaac Herzog, Petr Pavel (Czech Republic President), Andry Rajoelina (Madagascar), Mohamed Ould Ghazouani (Mauritania), Salva Kiir (South Sudan) South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa (South Africa), Faustin-Archange Touadéra (Central African Republic) and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed among others.

Former US President Bill Clinton, Ugandan Vice President Jessica Alupo, Kenya’s Deputy Rigathi Gachagua, and Stéphane Séjourné, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France, was also present.

President Paul Kagame during the 30th commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi dubbed 'Kwibuka30' on Sunday, April 7, 2024.