Monday, 6 April 2009

Illuminee's Speech Rwandan Genocide Commemoration

This is the speech that Illuminee is making at the Rwandan Genocide Commemoration in London on Tuesday 7 April.

Your excellency Ambassador Claver Gatete, ladies and gentlemen.

It is 15 years since the Genocide. It sounds a long time ago, but for survivors it can seem as if it was just yesterday. What I mean is that our wounds and scars are still with us. If anything touches those scars it hurts. It reminds us of our experiences in 1994.

I was brought up in Gacuriro Kigali, and married my husband John on April 3 1994. We were living in Nyakabanda. I lost John on May 10, just a few days after our son Roger was born. I like many Rwandans also lost members of my family and close friends.

All survivors have different stories to tell. It was a miracle, that my son and me survived in the chaos of Kigali. I was helped by Rwandans with a kind heart who hated the bloodshed.

I even joined the exodus to Zaire, and possible death from cholera in a refugee camp and was lucky to be turned back on Mont Kigali by the RPF. Those RPF soldiers who appeared out of the early morning mist on Mont Kigali will be my heroes for the rest of my life.

I moved to England in 1996 and live in Norwich with my son Roger. I would not be here, now, if it had not been for the help of many NHS doctors and nurses, who helped me through troubled times, along with the support of my family and friends.

I chose to expose myself, to be naked, in a way, and told my story in the book, Miracle in Kigali. I would like to thank my co-author Paul Dickson, and The Tagman Press for making my dream come true. I would also like to thank Ambassador Gatete for his support.

But why did I want to open myself up in this way?

It was first of all medication to help myself get better, to see if I could be healed.

Secondly it was to help ensure that what happened cannot happen again.

Thirdly to give the message of hope for the future especially the next generation of Rwandans.

A lot, has happened to Rwanda and Rwandans, in the last 15 years. For we survivors it is a long journey. We try to forgive but we will never forget. We will never be the same again, but we can keep going. We will not turn the clock back, but we can look forward.

My message to survivors is to take our time, appreciate our lives and not to be ashamed about the past, and what happened to us in 1994. It was not our fault. Try to work for a better life for you, your children and their children.

Some people say that there was no Genocide and keep saying it. But my story and me are living testimonies to the fact that the Genocide took place in 1994.

I red in the New Times that survivors have been killed who testified at a Gacaca court and that people have attacked the Gisosi memorial.

These people who do these things may think that they still have power, but they need to face their own demons, and then they can meet the angel.

Finally, my message to all Rwandan, survivors, at this difficult time of year – try to care and love yourself, be strong, have hope and move forward in your life.

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