Rwanda: Why Are Some Memorial Sites in Bad Shape?
30 April 2014 , By Theophile Harushyamagara, Source: Focus
Recently, while speaking to National Consultative Forum of Political
Organizations, Protais Mitali, the Minister of Sports and Culture, had
to explain the causes "of bad status" of some of the 1994 Genocide
memorial sites across the country.
While the minister agreed some memorial sites are in a poor condition
and promises a new law that is meant to reverse the case, in meantime,
pleas are coming to find immediate solutions to the problem.
"Us, whose relative's remains lie in the Rukumberi memorial site, we
are really sad. We would be delighted if this site was upgraded and
put up to required standards," said Callixte Kabandana, the president
of Rukumberi survivors' association in Ngoma, Eastern Province.
Rukumberi memorial site, where remains of at least 35,000 killed in
the Genocide lie, is described by Kabandana a "historical site",
considering how the Genocide perpetrators used copters to chase Tutsis
who attempted to find refuge in swamps surrounding the area.
Furthermore, he tells how in 2011, the Ngoma District officials and
Rukumberi survivors managed to fundraise the necessary budget to build
a respectable memorial site in memory of the loss of their loved ones.
But three years later, the memorial is in terrible shape.
Rukumberi is not the only memorial site in the Eastern province that
needs special attention, as Samson Gihana, the Ibuka representative in
Ngoma District, Eastern Province estimates.
Gihana, who is also a vice president of the East Provincial league of
Ibuka at the district level, thinks the province is far behind in
taking care of Genocide memorials compared to other parts of the
"I congratulate the Southern Province, because they have shown the
courage to prioritize taking care of Genocide memorials in their
province. But that can't be said of our province. We are far behind
compared to South, North and Provinces and Kigali City," said Gihana.
According to him, though there are promises of changing attitudes in
this regard, budget constraints, a reason forwarded by districts as a
cause, is not the main issue, but rather a lack of initiative to
engage in caretaking.
"I think there is a lack of will in the Eastern Province. It is clear
that wherever there is a good will, there is no such problem. Let's
take Southern Province case. They don't have the same problem at an
extent we do. If they are better off, why not us? This is where the
problem lies... the will," said Gihana.
Gihana describes various memorial sites in the Eastern Province as
"not up to standards", or lacking clear maintenance plans. Some are
not well cleaned, others have remains damaged or are not rehabilitated
and in obvious need.
While Gatsibo memorial site is "not up to standards", in Ngoma
district, construction works are yet to start at Kibungo and Rukumberi
sites. At Kirehe, Nyarubuye, Rwamagana and Bugesera memorial sites,
despite talks of rehabilitation, works are yet to be finished.
The recent report of the National Commission for the Fight against
Genocide (CNLG), documented memorial sites across the country that
needs special attention.
In its 2012 annual report, CNLG said at least 30 memorial sites,
including Murambi and Bisesero, needed support for rehabilitation. The
organization provided funds close to Rwf 1 million to maintain
Prof. Jean Pierre Dusingizemungu, the Ibuka president and also a CNLG
commissioner, admits several memorial sites are in a really bad
status, but adamant that all cannot be said to be in a deplorable
situation. The CNLG commissioner says district officials are at fault.
"When District Officials are committed and understands what it takes
to maintain memorial sites, there are no problems. The main problem is
the officials' attitude," he explains.
The commissioner gives the Huye district memorial sites as example to
stress that officials' attitude at district level is a determinant to
To support this claim, he indicates several of southern province
districts that put the rehabilitation of memorial sites in their
performance contracts; that resulted in the current "acceptable"
status of memorial sites across the province.
Prof. Dusingizemungu urges District official to cooperate with CNLG in
preserving memorial sites in their respective areas, and disagrees
with talks of budget constraints at district level as the main cause
of the issue.
Of budgets constraints claims from districts, CNLG says that district
officials should work hand in hands with the private sector to raise
necessary money to maintain memorial sites, because the government is
not in a position to find budget for all the sites.
The to-be-promulgated revised law governing memorial sites and
cemeteries of victims of the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda will
provide some solutions to budget constraints, according to the
Ministry of sports and culture.
Because it is difficult to get budget for all the memorial sites, CNLG
say they adopted a strategy of rehabilitation them in different
phases, with priority given to the most damaged.
La réponse est simple: qu'on enterre tous ces restes humains qu'on
exhibe depuis 20 ans. Que les morts reposent en paix.
SIBOMANA Jean Bosco
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