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Rwanda Genocide 30 Years After: Has Africa Learnt?


The scars of one of the most horrific genocides in modern history still linger, three decades after the unspeakable atrocities that shook the world to its core. The Rwanda genocide, which took place in 1994, claimed the lives of over a million people, mostly Tutsis and moderate Hutus, in a span of just 100 days. The world watched in horror as neighbour turned against neighbour, fueled by ethnic hatred and political manipulation, leading to a descent into unimaginable violence and bloodshed.

As we reflect on this dark chapter in human history, we are compelled to ask: What has the world, and indeed Africa, learned from the barbaric atrocities committed in Rwanda? Has justice been served on the perpetrators, and how have the victims managed to heal from the deep wounds inflicted by man’s inhumanity to another man?

The Rwanda genocide serves as a stark reminder of the consequences of unchecked hatred, division, and intolerance. It stands as a reflection of the failure of the international community to prevent such atrocities and to intervene swiftly to protect innocent lives. The world learned the high cost of indifference and the urgent need for early intervention in the face of emerging conflicts and human rights abuses.

Like Rwanda, Nigeria is currently caught in the web of ethno-religious tensions, with hatred for each other on the increase daily. We have had our own fair share of conflict even after the civil war, yet still we continue to fan the embers of hate against other ethnic nationalities for no just cause. Many have called for war, but obviously they have no single idea what the cost implications would be.

In the aftermath of the genocide, Rwanda embarked on a long and painful journey towards justice and reconciliation. The country established the Gacaca courts, a community-based justice system aimed at holding accountable the perpetrators of the genocide and promoting healing and forgiveness among survivors and perpetrators alike. Through these courts, thousands of individuals were tried and sentenced for their roles in the genocide, bringing a measure of justice to the victims and their families.

While significant progress has been made in holding perpetrators accountable, there are still challenges in ensuring comprehensive justice for all victims and addressing the root causes of the genocide. The wounds inflicted by the genocide run deep, and the process of healing and reconciliation remains ongoing for many survivors and their communities.

Despite the enormity of the trauma and loss experienced by the Rwandan people, the country has made remarkable strides in rebuilding itself and fostering national unity and reconciliation. Through initiatives such as the promotion of unity and reconciliation, economic development programs, and investment in education and healthcare, Rwanda has emerged as a shining example of hope and resilience in the face of adversity.

The Rwanda genocide in a long time to come remains a stark reminder of the capacity for both evil and humanity within each of us. It challenges us to confront the darkest aspects of our nature and to strive for a world where such atrocities can never happen again. As we mark 30 years since the genocide, let us remember the lives lost, honour the survivors and their resilience, and commit ourselves to building a more just, peaceful, and inclusive world for all.

In the words of Rwandan President Paul Kagame, “Remembering is necessary, but it is not enough. It is our duty to build a future where the children of today and tomorrow can live without fear and prejudice, where humanity triumphs over inhumanity.” Let us heed this call and work together to create a world where the lessons of Rwanda are not forgotten, but serve as a beacon of hope for a better tomorrow.

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