Rwandan remembers 'harrowing' genocide

Published Monday, 07 April 2014
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A Rwandan man who is now a minister in Co Down has described the genocide in his country 20 years ago as a "harrowing experience".

Rwandan remembers 'harrowing' genocide
Rev Jerome Munyangaju lost family members in the atrocity 20 years ago. (© UTV)

In 1994, hundreds of thousands of Tutsis were killed by Hutu extremists in 100 days between April and June in the east African country, along with moderate Hutus.

On the 20th anniversary the country is reflecting on one of the darkest periods in its history.

Thousands packed the national stadium in capital city Kigali as a week of mourning in the country began.

In Northern Ireland a memorial service will be held at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast on Monday night.

Rev Jerome Munyangaju, now rector of Killyleagh, is participating in the service.

A new story of reconciliation and nation building is an inspiring lesson which can be replicated across many parts of our divided world.

Rev Jerome Munyangaju

The minister, who lost loved ones in the atrocity, told UTV he will never forget the images that were beamed around the world.

"It was a harrowing experience to see people being butchered and killed," he said.

"Rwanda was not a very significant country according to the super-powers of the world or even the UN, therefore it was very frustrating to see that human beings were being ignored, others were evacuated and others were left really to be slaughtered.

"The fabric of society had broken down, there was no transport in place, we were hitch-hiking and I was going to look for families and unfortunately I came back to the sad news that they were not accounted for and therefore it was a very very painful experience for me and my family, we had to go through that trauma."

Reflecting two decades later, Rev Munyangaju stressed the importance of forgiveness.

"We invite the people of both Rwanda and the world to give this anniversary a positive meaning of learning more about forgiveness, unity and renewal, and commit to praying and working to ensure the adage 'Never Again' is a reality rather than rhetoric in our world," he said.

"Our past has divided us by focusing on ethnic stereotypes and other forms of sectarianism, hence the catastrophic consequences of disregard of life.

"Forgiveness has come to be the key in rebuilding Rwanda, and 20 years later, we are seeing the tremendous results."

© UTV News
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1 Comments
Monkey in Coleraine wrote (112 days ago):
This country thought it had troubles !
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