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The new Nyanza memorial garden
The final works of constructing ‘Jardin de la Mémoire’ (Garden of Memory) in honor of victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi will be completed within 100 days of the 27th commemoration.
The 100 days which started on April 7 when the Genocide started, will last until July 4 when it was stopped by RPF-Inkotanyi.
The construction of the memorial garden located at Nyanza Genocide Memorial in Kicukiro District was officially launched by First Lady Jeannette Kagame in April 2019.
The Garden of Memory, located along the under-construction Bugesera Expressway, symbolizes life and rebirth after the Genocide, as well as the protection that was offered by nature during the Genocide in which over a million lives were lost.
Speaking to The New Times, Naphtal Ahishakiye, the Executive Secretary of Genocide Survivor Organisation- Ibuka, said that the final phase remains with finishing works.
“We are in the final phase with finishing touches. Actually, the last phase had to take 20 percent of all construction works. The last phase works are also at 50 percent of completion. This means that, generally, the works are at over 90 percent and will be completed within 100 days of commemoration,” he explained.
Some of the final works, he said, include setting up benches that will be serving visitors and guardrails among other amenities.
The memorial garden covers three hectares at a cost of Rwf700 million.
A garden of remembrance that is under construction at Nyanza-Kicukiro Genocide Memorial
It is being implemented through the collaboration of different institutions including Ibuka, the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG), Imbuto Foundation, and Kicukiro District.
First Lady Jeannette Kagame is the founder of Imbuto Foundation and it operates under her office.
The memorial garden was devised to represent the tragic history when over 2,500 Tutsi were killed by Interahamwe militia around the Nyanza area after they were abandoned by UN peacekeepers.
They are also buried at Nyanza Genocide Memorial where over 97,000 remains are laid to rest. Most of the remains at this site were exhumed from different parts of Kigali and its peripheries.
They had sought refuge at the former ETO-Kicukiro (currently IPRC-Kigali), which was protected by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Rwanda (UNAMIR), until the Belgian contingent left the country, leaving them at the mercy of the Interahamwe militia.
The Garden of Memory also has a section that recognizes RPF-Inkotanyi who on April 11, 1994, rescued some of the Tutsi who had come to seek refuge in the area.
Inside the memorial garden
The memory of the garden has over 12 features. Each feature symbolises the history of 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, he said.
One of the features is the Amphitheatre where people in commemoration will gather during commemoration ceremonies, he said.
The other features include a stone monument, a dry garden, the forest of memory, landscape terraces, earth mounds, a meditation corridor, seasonal marshlands and others.
Marshlands, waterways, rivers, trenches, trees, flowers, pit-holes and others represent places where victims were killed or thrown dead or alive, retrieved alive or dead during the Genocide.
The dry stone feature simply means we were here as a place of renaissance, the rebirth.
The forest of memory has indigenous tree varieties, starting with 100 trees for 100 days of suffering and slaughter during the Genocide.
Umurinzi tree (meaning guardian in Kinyarwanda) was planted to keep the memory of Genocide victims’ loved ones alive.
The garden also has a corridor dedicated for meditation and also has benches and shaded areas for people to relax and meditate.
The earth mounds symbolise Rwanda’s “Thousands Hills” that provide intimate quiet spaces for meditation and reflection.
There is also giant monument for flame of hope that will be established represents dignity and resilience of those who experienced the Genocide.
It will be a six metres high monument made of copper with two upright individuals (a man and woman).
“The standing two people means despite 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, Rwandans are still alive and have life,” Ahishakiye said.