Kigali genocide memorial center – Gisozi Genocide Memorial site is located on a hilly area in Kigali which is the capital of Rwanda. The site stands in memory of the 250,000 people that were buried there after losing their lives in the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. Also known as Kigali Genocide memorial site, Gisozi genocide site is the place where you will get a clearer story about the manslaughter of thousands of Rwandans over 20 years ago.
Kigali genocide memorial center was established in 1999, about four years after the brutal genocide and was officially opened for visits in April 2004. It is managed by Aegis Trust and Kigali City Council.
There are attendants at the site and once you arrive there, you are welcomed and briefed about what you should expect to see around the site. Over 250,000 people were buried at Gisozi memorial site and their bodies are said to have picked from different areas including streets, rivers and many other places where they had been dumped after killing them.When thinking of which areas to visit around Kigali before or after the safari to National Parks, you can include Gisozi genocide memorial site where you will learn about the appalling manslaughter that took place just 25 years ago, leaving the country in terrible pain.
You will understand how the attack started, what the people went through, how they were affected and how they have coped up. Kigali genocide memorial center has three sections; the first section consists of documents explaining the history of Rwanda and details of the planned nature of the genocide against the Tutsi, the causes of the genocide. The second section is known as “Wasted lives” because some of the massacres that are documented there have not been recognized as genocide by international war. The third section is a children’s room and it is dedicated to the children who lost their lives during the genocide. It was included in memory of the thousands of children and infants who were massacred by the genocide rebels. There are some weapon and tools that were used for killing people during the event.
It is said that the attack against the Tutsi was earlier being planned until the president of Rwanda was killed in his plane as it was landing in Kigali, which opened way for the genocide. The Hutu right away started attacking the Tutsi and also killed ten Belgian soldiers who were guarding the Prime Minister, Madame Agathe. When the genocide started, foreign countries ignored it seeing it as an internal conflict, but it was massive and largely affected the country in all aspects as an estimation of 500,000 to 1,000,000 are said to have lost their lives in the massacre in only a period of 3 months.
Gisozi genocide memorial site is open for visits from 8:00am to 5:00pm and the last entrance is at 4:00pm. Every last Saturday of the month is known as Umuganda and the site opens at 1:00pm and closes at 5:00pm. Visiting the memorial site directly contributes to the socio-economic re-establishment of Rwanda as a community. People need to be sensitized about hatred and divisions among the people of Rwanda and psychologically help the people who witnessed the horrific event among others.
There are other memorial sites in Rwanda which can be visited for dark tourism they include Ntarama genocide memorial center, Murambi memorial center, Nyamata memorial site, Gisenyi genocide memorial site, Ntarama memorial site, Nyarubuye genocide memorial site, Nyanza memorial site and Bisesero memorial site. These memorial sites make Rwanda one of the top destinations for “Dark tourism”.
However, Rwanda’s tourism is not exclusively “dark”. The country is one of Africa’s top safari destinations because of the exciting activities at its fascinating destinations including Virunga National Park, Nyungwe Forest National Park, Akagera National Park and relaxation sites like Lake Kivu beach.
The people of Rwanda embrace peace and reconciliation. They are committed to fight the ideology of genocide. The memorials found throughout the country are moving testimonies in memory of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and the people who lost their lives. Inaugurated on the 10th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, the Kigali Genocide Memorial at Gisozi is where 250,000 victims have been buried. This memorial site also serves to educate about how the Genocide against the Tutsi took shape and examines genocide in the 20th century.
The wall of names is dedicated to those who died and is a work still in progress. Many of the victims’ names have yet to be gathered and documented and many of the victims who rest in the graves are unknown. The memorial gardens provide a place for quiet contemplation about the history of the Genocide against the Tutsi. They allow visitors to reflect on how we all have a personal responsibility to prevent discrimination and mass atrocity. The center also provides support for survivors, in particular orphans and widows.
While the largest memorial is in Kigali, the genocide touched all corners of Rwanda, and as such there are many emotionally charged memorials located throughout the country. Some are as simple as a quiet garden space for contemplation, while others are larger and hold relics, remains, and exhibits on the genocide itself.