The High Commissioner of Rwanda to Uganda Maj (Rtd) Frank Mugambagye has rallied young people in Rwanda and Uganda to respect humanity and embrace individual differences as a way of eliminating genocide ideologies.
He urged the young generation to desist from propagating hatred that is based on sectarianism but rather honour human dignity which he said is ‘most fundamental’ of all rights.
Mugambagye made the appeal on Friday evening during an engagement with about 100 youths from Uganda and Rwanda held at the Innovation Village in Kampala.
The discussion organized by Léo Africa Institute was part of the commemorative activities of the Genocide memorial week (Kwibuka) in Rwanda, view 23 years after the country lost over one million people in a gruesome ethnic massacre.
“What happened in Rwanda in 1994 didn’t just occur. It was planned and executed with foreign (colonial) influence which classified Rwandans based on their ethnicity, thumb ” the Ambassador told participants.
This division, he said was what eventually sparked off hate speech and later denial by the very perpetrators.
“The biggest lesson is respect for human values because that’s what we share despite differences in color, race and language. Societies prosper based on the values they promote and how they are passed on to next generations.”
The diplomat pointed out that it isn’t enough to point figures to political leaders as being responsible for what happened in Rwanda and other genocidal events around the world. According to him, leadership must be addressed at individual, family and community in order to promote unity.
In her view, Patricia Twasiima, a lawyer and human rights defender with Chapter Four Uganda, the fight against genocide tendencies can only be successful through an ‘honest discussion’ of what actually transpired.
“We should hold each other accountable and call out people who still think that it is okay to kill somebody else simply because they are different,” she said.
The deliberations which happened concurrently with another similar discussion in Kigali also hinted on the responsibility of the international communities such as the United Nations which are faulted for looking on as atrocities were being committed.
“What is important is for us to own up to our actions. We have the capacity to hold our leaders accountable especially when international institutions like the ICC have become biased in their justice,” Mugambagye told ChimpReports in an interview after the discussion.
Two decades after the catastrophic incident, many have wondered how a small country like Rwanda has managed to make significant strides in social and economic development.
Mugambagye attributes this to “good leadership” which he says has instilled a spirit of unity coupled with a strong determination by Rwanda’s nationals to overcome their past.
This conversation comes at a time when there has been continued tensions in the Great Lakes region with the latest being killings in South Sudan which UN recently referred to as ‘ethnic cleansing’.