Sombre mood as physical Kwibuka activities return

Saturday April 15 2023

President Paul Kagae and First Lady Jeannette Kagame ignite the Flame of Hope at Kigali Memorial site on April 7 as Rwanda begun 28th commemoration. Photo | Cyril Ndegeya

By Ange Iliza

The second week of every April, Rwanda enters a 100-day commemoration period of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi where over a million men, women, and children were killed in three months.

Physically activities of Kwibuka return after a break due to Covid-19 restrictions since 2020. The pandemic in 2020 saw the cancellation of physical commemoration events.  Only the Lighting of the Light of Hope by President Paul Kagame was retained.

Commemoration talks and other events were shifted to national and private broadcasting publications and YouTube. Covid-19 travel bans prohibited survivors from visiting memorial sites and burial places of their loved ones.

This year, the commemoration period will kick off with events held physically at the village level. The national event was held simultaneously on April 7 at Gisozi Genocide Memorial in Kigali.

During the commemoration period, all leisure activities, such as music concerts, gambling activities, sports competitions, and playing loud music in public are prohibited for seven days until April 13.

Night vigils and “walk to remember” will be held on condition that they do not interfere with business and traffic in Kigali. The period, commonly known as Kwibuka, or remembrance, returns this year with a focus on educating history to the population until July.


''Remember-Unite-Renew” is still a recurring theme, five years now. This year’s discussions will revolve around educating and revisiting the history of the events that led to the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi particularly focusing on the youth.

“We now have young people who were born after the genocide and have little knowledge of the history of Genocide against the Tutsi and events that led to it. The focus of this year’s commemoration talks will focus on educating history,” said Jean Damascene Bizimana,

Minister of National Unity and Civic Engagement, during a press conference on Wednesday in Kigali. Mr Bizimana added that this year’s commemoration will also focus on disseminating history resources to the public for easy access.

Taking history from books to the internet as part of the initiative of educating Rwanda’s history, Minister Jean Damascene Bizimana is among the narrators of the “Kwibuka Podcast” which since 2021 has been publishing episodes on historical events and analysis that led to and followed the 1994 Genocide Against Tutsi.

The Podcast is available on the internet with over 70 episodes available and is broadcast on the national broadcaster during the Kwibuka period.

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Unity and Civic Engagement, Clarisse Munezero, said the government is working on short videos and animated stories about the history and facts on the genocide that will be disseminated via social media platforms to reach a wider audience of young people.

“We are trying to take a history from books and archives to the internet so as many people, in Rwanda and abroad can access these resources. This will help in educating the history and debunking misinformation and genocide denial,” Ms Muzero said.

Genocide denial has been categorized as a threat to Rwanda’s unity and reconciliation.