© 2024 Michigan State University Board of Trustees
Public Media from Michigan State University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
TECHNOTE: 90.5 FM and AM870 reception

Rwanda will hold week of commemorations marking 30th anniversary of 1994 genocide

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

Rwanda is holding a week of commemorations to mark the 30th anniversary of the 1994 genocide. In just 100 days, some 800,000 people, mostly Tutsis, were killed by extremists from the majority Hutu ethnic group. NPR's Emmanuel Akinwotu reports from Lagos.

(SOUNDBITE OF BUGLE)

EMMANUEL AKINWOTU, BYLINE: A bugle call echoes across the capital, Kigali. It marks the start of Kwibuka, or the act of remembering in the Kinyarwanda language. It comes three decades after the genocide, a horrific period from which Rwanda has emerged as one of the more quickly developing countries on the continent, but which still casts a shadow.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

AKINWOTU: Rwanda's President Paul Kagame led a ceremony at the genocide memorial on Sunday. It's where the bones of more than a quarter of a million people murdered in the genocide are believed to be buried.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT PAUL KAGAME: We also feel a particular gratitude to all the friends and representatives.

AKINWOTU: The Rwandan president gave particular thanks to a number of African countries for their assistance during that period, but had bitter words for others.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

KAGAME: It was the international community which failed all of us, whether from contempt or cowardice.

AKINWOTU: Former U.S. President Bill Clinton was among several international leaders who stood by as Kagame spoke. Clinton was president during that period and would later express his regret for failing to intervene.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT EMMANUEL MACRON: (Speaking French).

AKINWOTU: In a video message, French President Emmanuel Macron acknowledged that his country and its allies could have done more to prevent the genocide, but he stopped short of an outright apology.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

AKINWOTU: Sunday's ceremony marked the darkest chapter in Rwanda's history, but also the country's journey since then. Thirty years on, Rwanda is held as both a success story as well as a cautionary one. President Paul Kagame's 25-year rule has seen a tightly controlled reckoning with the genocidal past and major gains in education and health, but it has also seen human rights violations, with critics targeted or allegedly killed. Rwanda has also been accused by the U.N., U.S. and others of backing rebel groups in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo in violence that has killed many and displaced millions of people.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

AKINWOTU: While Rwanda has changed, the legacy of the genocide remains an agent of it. After 30 years, it's still fresh in the minds of many.

Emmanuel Akinwotu, NPR News, Lagos. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Emmanuel Akinwotu
Emmanuel Akinwotu is an international correspondent for NPR. He joined NPR in 2022 from The Guardian, where he was West Africa correspondent.
To help strengthen our local reporting as WKAR's fiscal year ends, we need 75 new or upgraded sustainers by June 30th. Become a new monthly donor or increase your donation to support the trustworthy journalism you'll rely on before Election Day. Donate now.