Rising From The Past

Delving into the tumultuous history of Rwanda is difficult for many guests; yet, seeing the genocide memorial sites first-hand provides valuable insight into the transformative journey of the Rwandan people. Memorials from the 1994 genocide are scattered around the country and remain in the same state as when the tragedy was unfolding. The Kigali Genocide Memorial Center provides visitors with a two- to three-hour orientation into the events that occurred at the site, where an over 259,000 victims lie buried. We recommend this exhibit as your last stop after visiting other sites in the country. Each display is beautifully designed to tell the story of Rwanda in a poignant and moving way. The indoor museum provides a historical overview of the events that led up to the genocide, as well as displays dedicated to Rwandan children who were killed. Another exhibit highlights the global issue of genocide, with displays that depict the Holocaust and similar tragedies in Bosnia, Southwest Africa, Cambodia, and Armenia.

In addition to the Tutsi, peoples from around the world were targeted around the same time the genocide took place. Camp Kigali Belgian Monument stands as a memorial to ten Belgian United Nations soldiers who were killed while protecting the prime minister. Their lives were taken to undermine international support that stood against the genocide. The Nyanza Genocide Memorial shows the next chapter in the genocide, after the Belgian soldiers were killed. The school was a hideout for 2,000 Tutsis, including 400 children, who were seized, taken to a nearby garbage dump, and murdered. Some of the most brutal killings occurred at two churches—Nyamata and Ntarama. These memorials are some of the most shocking and deeply emotional of all the memorials in Rwanda. The skulls and bones unveil the story of those who were murdered. Blood-stained walls, pews draped with clothing, sharpened stakes, bullet holes, and small wood caskets reveal a vivid and deeply emotional chapter in Rwandan history. The exhibits are so powerful that many guests find it difficult to reconcile the country’s past with the joy and warm-hearted hospitality that is Rwanda today—a contrast that is testament to the country’s dedication to defining and protecting a better future for all of its people.

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