Rwanda Memorials

Burial garden at Kigali Memorial Centre

My Peace and Conflict Studies class recently went on three field trips to genocide memorials in Rwanda: The Kigali Memorial Centre, and the Ntarama and Nyamata memorials. The Kigali Memorial Centre was very much like a museum, while Ntarama and Nyamata were churches where people had been killed.

Church in Ntarama where killing occurred

The main exhibit of Kigali Memorial Centre walks you through Rwanda’s history from before the genocide to its aftermath. Upstairs, there was information about genocides all over the world including Herero, Armenian, and Cambodian. Many of these are not taught about in American schools. Genocides of all kinds should be a part of education everywhere in order to not repeat history. There was also an exhibit that highlighted the children affected by genocide, as well as their role in healing.

Rwanda flag waving proudly in Nyamata

While the Kigali Memorial was the most educational, both Ntarama and Nyamata were more emotional. As we walked through the sanctuary and Sunday School at Ntarama, I could not comprehend what it would be like to be praying and suddenly attacked by people who may have even been your neighbors.

At Nyamata, there was a single coffin on display. Our guide said that it was the coffin of a woman, and that she represented all women who were raped and killed during the genocide. Death is always a sad concept, but even sadder is that these people were abused and tortured in their final moments of life. No one should die so violently at the hands of another person. I do not understand what can bring someone to do something so cruel to a fellow human.


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