Museums keep history alive

Wednesday July 3 2019

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 An image showing the arliament building under attack from the Interahamwe in 1994.  PHOTOS | ANDREW I KAZIBWE 

ANDREW I KAZIBWE
By ANDREW I KAZIBWE
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As Rwanda marks its 25th liberation this year, the history of this struggle is not well known.

Most learn about it through books and journals at the National Liberation Park Museum and the Campaign Against Genocide Museum.

The National Liberation Park Museum, located in Gicumbi district, is strategically positioned on a hill, in an open air site.

It is surrounded by a huge tea plantation and a pine forest.

With eight houses, it was the former residence of the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), a party that fought for the country’s liberation and put an end to the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

At the site is The Arusha Desk, also referred to as the Tito Rutaremara house, where RPF officials would meet to hold briefings before meetings in Arusha, Tanzania.

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The houses were former residences for officials like RPF chief President Paul Kagame, former aide to President Kagame James Kabarebe, former RPF chairperson Alex Kanyarengwa and former president Pasteur Bizimungu.

With political and army wings, it also served as residence grounds for the late Aloysia Nyumba, a phenomenal commissioner who headed the fundraising committee and part of Political Mass Mobilisers (PMM).

The museum showcases tactical methods used by the RPA Army and the bunker used by President Kagame.

The museum is currently undergoing renovation and has been attracting more Rwandans according to Philmon Mugabo, the museum manager.

As part of its two-year upgrade plan, the museum in partnership with researchers and the Ministry of Defence is expanding and widening the site’s exhibition, while also collecting more visual content.

Housed within the National Parliament of Rwanda, the Campaign against Genocide Museum holds crucial material on the country’s liberation struggle.

Parliament itself is one of the main facilities and it is where the RPA soldiers set up their base during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and it shielded and aided them.

The Campaign against Genocide Museum showcases historic images, videos and monuments.

There are museum guides who readily take visitors through the dreadful experience.

It documents the victims, how the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi was ignited and the perpetrators.

Also being exhibited is RPA’s rescue plan from Kanombe, Gitarama, Mount Kigali, Mount Jali to Butare before advancing to Ruhengeri and Gisenyi on July 17, 1994.

The museum also documents the first steps towards peace through the government of national unity.

The Campaign against Genocide Museum has over the years attracted a good turn up of people.

“We received 81,000 visitors and generated Rwf34 million in 2018, making it the top income generating museum site,” said Medard Bashana, the museum’s Manager.

By the end of March this year, the museum registered close to 83,000 visitors, of which 75 per cent were Rwandans.

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