"GENOCIDE MEMORIAL CENTRE - RWANDA" Top 5 Page for this destination Africa Things to Do Tip by DAO

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You are looking at the final burial place of 250,000 people in just 2 photos. The Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre is set in gardens about the full dimensions of an American football ground or European soccer pitch. Most of these people were killed in a few days when the Rwandan Genocide occurred in 1994. Today the Centre is much more than a mass grave. It is a working centre of learning as well as a heart-breaking museum to educate future generations of the nightmare that occurred. It is also working hard to help ensure that genocide, anywhere in the world, does not happen again. Sadly it has happened in so many places across the world.

The Centre is completely free and you will be offered an audio guide or sometimes even a human guide to take you through the exhibits and grounds. Starting downstairs are exhibits detailing the history of Belgian colonial rule and how they divided Rwanda into ?Hutus? and ?Tutsis?. Originally it was to differentiate economic class. Tutsis has more wealth. Many were of a taller, thinner background (Kenyan, Ethiopian) than Hutus, but not always so. By the early 1990?s competing armed groups of the 2 classes were often at war. The Hutu government of 1994 prepared the genocide through training, distribution of weapons and radio transmissions starting the mass killings. Often the weapons were machetes and most were killed by hand. No age, sex or religion was spared and the withdrawal of UN peacekeepers meant the slaughter continued until over 1 million corpses littered the countryside. The photo boards and videos document the full horrible story.

Further exhibits downstairs include a central room of photos of victims donated by survivors. Many of the donors fled abroad and all too often the photos are of whole families and children. Every face in this filled room is frozen in 1994 when they were murdered. The last room displays skulls with the method of their death often very obvious.

Upstairs is a gallery showing the individual life story of more than a dozen children. It documents what they like to do, what kind of personality they had, their favourite toy and the method of their murder. Sometimes it even explains who killed them. Often a neighbour or family friend. The last gallery documents genocides across the world in the modern age. Not just the Jewish Holocaust in World War II, but colonial excesses in Africa, Yugoslavia in the early 1990?s, Cambodia and Darfur today.

There are also stories of hope here. There are stories of resistance and survival. There are classrooms here so children today can learn to live together. In fact the terms ?Hutu? and ?Tutsi? are banned in modern Rwanda. Their excellent website also has many stories of the survivors. Research is also done here to help document the dead and hunt down un-prosecuted genociders.

The gardens outside are beautiful and look upwards to the hills of Rwanda and the growing city of Kigali. There are 11 mass graves here with coffins stacked 3 meters deep in concrete crypts. Some coffins contain the remains of as many as 50 people. Whole families wiped out at a time and no one was left alive to ever identify thousands of the dead.

The newest project on site is to fully build a ?Wall of Names? with as many victims as possible memorialised. You can help with this, the upkeep of the Centre, grounds, education classes and research with your donations. They can be made here at the centre or via their website.

Unfortunately the Genocide of 1994 will forever be the major event in Rwandan history. Please do visit the memorial if you do travel to Kigali. There are other Genocide Memorial sites across Rwanda and other Mass graves. Please see their website linked below or other locations.
Please note: No photography is allowed inside.

Directions: Kigali Memorial Centre, c/o Aegis Trust, P.O. Box 7251, Kigali, Rwanda. Ask any Taxi or Taxi Moto for 'Memorial' in Kigali.
othercontact: liliane.kirenga@aegistrust.org
Phone: +250 08 30 76 66
Website: http://www.kigalimemorialcentre.org/old/index.html

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jan 5, 2010
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