This April marks the 20th anniversary of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. For many ASYV students, it was a traumatic part of their past and they are still healing from the terror that struck their nation and the world. On March 20, a group of Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village students were selected to participate in a nationwide event called Kwibuka Flame of Remembrance, to commemorate twenty years after the Genocide.

In Kinyarwanda, Kwibukameans “to remember.” According to the National Commission For The Fight Against Genocide (CNLG), “President Paul Kagame will use the Kwibuka Flame of Remembrance to light the National Flame of Mourning on 7 April 2014, marking the official beginning of the national mourning period.” The event was hosted by the Mayor of Rwamagana and included speeches, songs, and a special dramatic performance by ASYV students.   The event was attended by Government officials including cabinet ministers, members of parliament and other dignitaries from every corner of the country.  

The students who were selected to carry the flame will turn twenty this year, in recognition of the anniversary of the genocide.  These students, who were born the same year almost 1 million Rwandans lost their lives, symbolize the continued growth of Rwanda as it moves forward into the future, even after the traumatic events of the students’ birth year.  The Kwibuka Flame symbolizes the resilience and courage of Rwandans over the past twenty years and serves as a reminder of the necessity of acknowledging the painful past. 

One of the selected students, Benjamin Mugabo, said, “It was a great privilege for me to carry the flame for Rwanda. It was a time to remember my past and to honor my family who were murdered during the Genocide against Tutsi in Rwanda in 1994. The flame symbolizes light. It means that Rwanda will have a bright future.” Benjamin is a Senior 6 (12th grade) student studying Math, Economics, and Geography.  He has a dream of becoming a news broadcasting journalist.

This single flame will travel throughout every district in Rwanda to light other memorial fires, and will finish its journey in Kigali. 

Submitted by 2014 Village Fellows Samantha Reynolds (Author), Ali Wolfson (Editor)