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Lessons For Kenya From The Rwanda Genocide As We Approach 2017 Elections.

The Kigali Genocide memorial where Counselors from the International professional counseling centers in Thika (IPCC) and some members of the National Police Service (NPS) visited during the annual psycho trauma seminar.
By Francis Ngahu.

After experiencing the1994 genocide, the Rwandese have preserved their memorial sites as part of their learning to ensure that such a mistake shall never happen in future, the question is how many sites have been established in Kenya after the 2008 post-election violence?

One thing is for sure that the Rwandese accepted what happened in their country, they never leave in denial of what happened something different from our country.

We must all remember that the post-election violence was not a single act of murder but hundreds of people lost their lives. The astonishing thing this how our leaders spread ethnic hatred among Kenyans yet we are one nation one people.

They say fools learn from their own mistake while the wise men learn from others people’s mistake, Kenya must learn what happened to Rwanda especially as we are nearing the election period.

In an exclusive interview in Rwanda, Susan Gitau, a counselling psychologist said that Kenyans must not live in denial or bury the in humane acts that happened in 2008. She said that we all need to accept where we went wrong.

“Rwanda is the perfect example for us as a country to learn, we may have lost few lives compared to them but that tells us a lot since there is no life that is too small to be lost. The Rwandese always retell their story and remind each other of what happened so that they don’t forget the genocide and go back to the mass killings"

Susan urged the government to be at the core to help Kenyans always to heal and feels safe since it has all the mechanism. 

Counselors from the International professional counseling centers in Thika (IPCC) and some members of the National Police Service (NPS) participated in the annual psycho trauma seminar held in Rwanda this year’s and learnt about peace building after war , trauma counseling after war community trauma based counseling and conflict prevention, management and resolution.

The members visited the Gisozi memorial site in Kigali Rwanda which is the largest genocide memorial where 250,000 bodies were buried after their loved ones decided to bury them in a decent place.

It all started on 7th April 1994 where political leaders had organized the genocide. This was due to social economic difference between the Hutu and the Tutsi. After their colonization by the Belgium they would be differentiated by how rich you were for instance if you had two cows you would be called a Hutu while if you had like 10 cows then you become a Tutsi. Funny enough the two had same culture and were speaking same language but separated by economic classes.

The separation and the preaching of hatred amongst them made them to kill each other an occasion that made approximately a million people to be killed within one hundred days.

Just like the Kiambaa incidence in our country some Rwandese sought refuge in churches thinking that it was the safest place to be but that was not the case.

Sadly enough 2,000 congregants who were sheltering in the church were bulldozed in their church after a father named Seromba ordered the killing of his congregates in his church. Among the churches that were turned into a killing center were one in Ntarama where 10,000 were killed and Nyamburunge where 20,000 were murdered.

Family members were made to watch on as their parents and children were tortured, beaten raped in front of their eyes.

On one occasion victims were thrown away alive down deep latrines and rocks were thrown down in the latrine until their screams subsided into silence. Innocent children also suffered machete cuts, other bullet wounds and starvation. There was rampant lawless looting and chaos after which 300, 000 children were left on their own.
The Kenyan delegation that attended this year’s annual psycho trauma seminar held annually in Rwanda in commemoration of the genocide.
 The media and the church also played a major role in the genocide the pictures and cartoons in print media were demonstrating the hate between the Hutu and Tutsi while the priest used their pulpits to preach division.

Jacob Mugenzire a survivor and a tour guide at Ntarama memorial center who was twenty years old by then said that he had to go to Congo for exile and educational purpose. He said that many people fought against them using guns while they were only using stones.

“As genocide neared to its end chaos refined across the country and people were flying for different reasons,” said Mugenzire.

Mugenzire added that It was estimated that over two thirds of population of Rwanda was displaced as people fled as a result of guilt, fear, confusion or being held hostage bringing the number to over 2 million.

After the intervention of the army and the reconciliation by the church Rwanda retained its calmness and swore never to fight or be divided simply because of who they are.

The recent incident in a Mandera bound bus where Muslims brother defended the Christians from al-shabaab attackers, same thing happened in Rwanda on March 18, 1997 where rebels burst into a class room at Nyange Secondary School where students had just finished their homework and evening prayers and told them to separate in Hutu and Tutsi. The students refused saying ‘all of us are Rwandese here’ unfortunately the rebels fired grenades where six children lost their lives and 21 wounded.

The children learnt to stay in solidarity rather than betraying their friends and classmates. We must learn not to bury what happened in 2008 post-election violence rather that should be our stepping stone by declaring that we are all Kenyans despite where we come from.     

Our leaders must not forget that they’ve been voted by Kenyans they must realize that they are there because of us and not themselves. They must realize as leaders their opinion influences a lot therefore they must watch what they speak to Kenyans since Rwanda was where it was because of opinion leadership.  

The writer is a student ofJodan College of Technology In Thika and an intern with K.N.A. 

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