The past two years have seen Rwanda commemorate the Genocide against the Tutsi quietly because of the pandemic, but this year's 28th Kwibuka has brought back in-person public events. Venues hosting genocide memorial too are this year welcoming visitors. One such venue is the relatively new Campaign Against Genocide Museum (CAG), a space that goes beyond books and scholarly on the genocide, and offers a more interactive experience.
The CAG is housed within the grounds of the National Parliament of Rwanda, in Gishushu, Kigali, a 15-minute drive from the Kigali International Airport. The museum offers deeper learning of the political events that led to the 1994 genocide, its effects and the liberation struggle, having been the epicentre of the liberation struggle.
The museum exhudes modernity furnished partially with traditional Rwandan artefacts like the Imigingo and traditional wall cladding . The well-lit interior is lined with digital pictures and embedded aurio and visual videos and pictures for visitors to watch, read and listen to.
Parliament was chosen to host this space because it was the base for Rwanda Patriotic Army who sheltered here, and were engaged in mediation talks with the regime of president Juvenile Habyarimana. It is therefore a shrine for the liberation struggle story.
The visuals and illustrations show a tactical military journey of the 600 RPA members, led by Rt. Col. Charles Kayonga, as they provided security to RPF representatives who had been sent to sign the Arusha peace agreement.
But also as a backgrounder to the events that led to 1994, is the display showing the role of media organisations like Radio Television Libre des Milles Collines (RTLM), and Kangura newspaper, which were to incite violence.
On display too are the pictures of Felicien Kabuga, Rt. Col Theoneste Bagosora, and Dr. Leon Mugesera who are considered the masterminds and perpetrators of the genocide. They are next to pictures of over 450,000 trained militias who kicked off the killings.
This part of the exhibition focuses on the RPA successful counter rescue plans through Kanombe, Mont Kigali, Mont Jali, Gitarama to Butare before advancing to Ruhengeri and Gisenyi on July 17, 1994, giving details of the various battalions, organised to tactically protect and rescue survivors.
The biggest honour to RPA valour is the monuments of soldiers in active combat outside the museum.
Last year, the museum saw the addition of 24 bunkers; underground L-shaped structures, representing the hide-outtunnels dug by the RPA while they camped at these same parliament grounds in 1994. Three more bunkers constructed out of piled stuffed sacks symbolize those shared by the RPA and the UN Forces as they guarded those attending peace talks back then.
The museum is currently back in operation and admitting only those fully vaccinated. It opens daily from 8am to 5pm.