Night falls; the darkness is dense, dots of light decorated the hills like candles on a Christmas tree. Car headlights pierce the darkness in the distance. Everything is in slow motion,calmed by the ending of the day. The street lamps throw off a dull glare. The air is cool, the ground is warm.” This is how the writer Véronique Tadjo described the post genocide Kigali in her book “The Shadow of Imana”.
In April 1994, almost a million people died in the Rwandan genocide which just lasted just a hundred days making it one of the deadliest in the world. The country became a harbour of skeletons and scattered bones. People both living and dead had a great deal transcending from that terrific memories that had accompanied the mass killing.
Today, Kigali is a different story, the courage and the determination by the people of Rwanda to rebuild their city has yield positive results. Kigali is UN’s Cleanest city in the whole Africa. Kigali today is considered the 3rd greenest city in the Word. Kigali today is one of the finest vacation destination in Africa.
After taking office in 2000, President Paul Kagame harnessed Umuganda(community)to help clean up his gun and shell-strewn capital, as well as to promote the idea of a cohesive national identity through communal projects. Under Kagame, Umuganda was formalised as a collective event on the last Saturday in every month.
It’s now a crime to litter in the streets of Kigali. Rwandans are today proud of their city today. “When foreign people come to this city and later return to their countries exclaiming about our city’s cleanliness, that itself motivates me to keep doing my work even better,” says Théodosia Vuganeza of the Ikondera Women’s Cleaning Co-operative.
They were deep down in the valley but never remain there, they have made significant strides in making their cities and country one of the best. Rwanda has indeed moved on from that horrific and gory past. The memories of the genocide may be indelible and never be forgotten but even that may only serve as a source of motivation and a reminder of the need for national unity and purpose.