Diplomats, representatives of the Kenyan government and Rwandans living in Kenya on Tuesday marked the International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi at the United Nation headquarters in Nairobi.
Dubbed “Kwibuka”, Kinyarwanda for remembrance, the solemn candle-lit ceremony saw students, business people and politicians converge at the UN Complex to reflect on gains made by the country 25 years after the ethnic carnage that left over a million people dead.
Harrowing tales of the events of the 100 days from hell were narrated by those in attendance, candles lit and a moment of silence observed for victims and survivors.
The Rwandan community lay white flowers at the steps of the complex.
At the event, the Kenyan government was represented by ambassador Ben Ogutu, the political diplomatic secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Narok Senator Ledama Ole Kina represented Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka.
Paul Nkubito, 60, narrated how he escaped death while his entire family was wiped out by the fighters.
“I was living in Kenya when the massacre took place in 1994. I had come here as a young man to look for work. My parents and four siblings were all killed. No one in my family survived,” he said.
For more than 20 years, Mr Nkubito has worked as a farm labourer in Ndakaini, central Kenya, hesitant to return to his country because “what is there for me?”
“I love Kenya. I met my wife here. But Rwanda remains my home. Yet, whenever I think about going back to my country, memories of the tragic events of 1994 creep back. It is unimaginable horror."
He has been to Rwanda once since the genocide and he stayed for only six months before coming back to Kenya.
The genocide against the Tutsi remains one of the most ruthless massacres in recent memory.
Rwandan High Commissioner to Kenya Richard Masozera described the consequences of the killings as “long, severe and persistent”.
“The genocide did not come out of the blue,” he said “It resulted from a deliberate denial of rights for a section of Rwandan people.”
To this effect, Dr Masozera said, the government instituted policies to foster equality and non-discrimination among Rwandans.
He called on the international community to tackle cases of rising xenophobia and racism globally, calling them an affront to social stability.
Since 1994, Rwanda has been on a steady path of forgiveness, healing, cohesion and economic and political growth.
With 64 women in the 106-member parliament, the country led by President Paul Kagame has the highest representation of women in any parliament in the world.