Following is the full speech by Tanzanian Minister Mark Mwandosya
SPEECH BY HON. PROF. MARK J. MWANDOSYA, (MP); MINISTER OF STATE, PRESIDENT’S OFFICE AT THE 20TH COMMEMORATION OF THE GENOCIDE AGAINST TUTSI IN RWANDA MLIMANI CITY, DAR ES SALAAM, 7TH APRIL, 2014
H.E. Ben Rugangazi, Rwanda High Commissioner to Tanzania,
H.E Salim Ahmed Salim, Former Prime Minister of Tanzania,
Mr. Bongeni Majora, Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations and Registrar of International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda,
Dr. Jama Gulaid, Acting United Nations Resident Coordinator,
Excellencies Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Fellow Participants to the Commemoration of Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda,
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Let me at the outset admit that commemoration of the events of the days of genocide of the Tutsi in Rwanda of 1994 is incomparable in the contemporary history of Africa. It is an event that is as difficult to describe in terms of finding an answer to the question why it did happen? As it is difficult to imagine the extreme to which the human specie can go to exact terror and brutality.
In the animal kingdom, to which we all belong, no specie with the exception of us, human beings, can and has been able to device means, whether crude or sophisticated, in order to exterminate its own.
God has imbued us with the wisdom, and intelligence to reign over the entire earth, the habitat, flora and fauna, so that life is sustained and generations present and those yet to come will also benefit. That is the essence of the existence, of mankind. Why that essence should be about extermination, is mind boggling.
Yet it has happened. The events of Rwanda two decades ago, from Cyangugu to Kigali, from Butare to Gisenyi from Kibuye to Kibungo, can only be compared to what took place at Dachau, Salaspils, Buchenwald, Bergen-Bolson, Auschwitz, Treblinka and other places during the Nazi Germany era, in the killing fields in the villages and towns in the Khimer Republic or Cambodia between 1975 and 1979 and in Srebrenica and Zepa in Bosnia in 1995.
In respect of the Liberation of Dachau on April 29, 1945, one Col. William Quian of the US 7th Army said:
“There our troops found sights, sounds and stenches horrible beyond belief, cruelties so enormous as to be incomprehensible to the normal mind”.
Now listen to what in a comparable situation Lieutenant General Dellaire had to say in his book; Shake hands with the Devil; the failure of Humanity in Rwanda exactly 49 years later:
“….. Twenty three days into the slaughter the situation continued to be nastier ….. the eastern rivers went packed with bodies that slowed into Uganda and Lake Victoria, so far an estimated 40 thousands bodies have been discovered from the lake. The crocodiles had a feast and in a matter of days 500,000 refugees spilled across the lone bridge at Rusumo into Tanzania, creating the largest dislocation of population ever witnessed by UNHCR as well as one of the largest camps in the world”.
After each of the aforesaid sad epochs in the history of mankind, we wept, and on regaining composure we declared ‘never again’. Despite all wishes, endeavours, declarations and resolutions, it happened again! We are gathered here to commemorate and to honour the lives of the thousands who on the basis of the shape of the nose, height, waist size, and cattle ownership, perished in 100 days so that those of us who survived the ordeal, either by sheer luck or the virtue of destiny, or by the accident of geography, can meet and respectfully declare once again, ‘never again’.
Under the theme: #Kwibuka ‘Remember, Unite, Inspire’, we gather here today to honour the victims of genocide and offer solidarity to the survivors whose resilience continues to inspire all of us. The 20th commemoration of the genocide against humanity allows us to join the people of #Rwanda in a solemn remembrance of the most tragic event of the last century when about 1 million people lost their lives in the course of the a hundred days.
Through resolve, determination and action, the people of Rwanda, the RPF and the Government under the leadership of His Excellency Paul Kagame, have shown Africa and the world that it is possible to rise from the ashes, from a people destroyed, to a nation, built on a strong foundation, with a vibrant economy, at peace with itself, and able to identify comparative advantages against the background of immense challenges of a high population density and a land locked location.
Rwanda has taught Africa, through practice, the advantages of communal forgiveness and reconciliation, national healing, political inclusiveness, national pride, national discipline and patriotism. The fact that the growth rate of the economy has been above 7 percent per annum over the last decade is an indication that Rwanda is on the way towards the achievement of the major goal of the Rwanda Vision 2020. Among other goals Rwanda aims to become a middle income country by the year 2020.
However for growth and development to be sustained, peace is an essential prerequisite. A country like Tanzania, or Rwanda for that matter, must be at peace with itself and with its immediate neighbours.
With respect to the relationship between Tanzania and Rwanda I can state, with certainty that the state of our relations is good. It could be better. There is more that unites us than the perception created in certain quarters, especially, from within the fourth estate, the media. We share a common border; we have a common language Swahili; while Kinyarwanda is spoken in Rwanda, Kihangaza and Kiha, dialects of Kinyarwanda are widely spoken in Kagera and Kigoma Regions of Tanzania; Tanzania provides import and export facilities for Rwanda through the Central Corridor and the port to Dar es Salaam, with the corridor being the shortest distance between Kigali and any port in Eastern Africa; Tanzania has provided a safe haven for refugees from Rwanda, many of whom are now citizens of Tanzania; we are implementing joint cross border projects such as the Rusumo Bridge, the Rusumo Power Project and the construction of a one stop joint customs and immigration facility; we belong to the same regional and sub-region organization such as the East African Community, Nile Basin Initiative and the African Union; Arusha hosts the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and will also host the centre for the archives of the tribunal processes; Tanzania and Rwanda have a lot in common in peace keeping. We both have peace keeping forces in Darfur, Sudan; Tanzania has peacekeeping force in Lebanon, Rwanda has a similar mission in the Central African Republic, and Tanzania plays a peace keeping and peace enforcement role in the Democratic Republic of Congo. I am also sure that it does not surprise you that many in the officer corps of RPA are graduates of the Monduli Military Officer Cadet College. Before the Treaty of Versailles, Tanganyika, Rwanda and Burundi were one country. We share a common history and therefore a common destiny.
I could go on and on. It is said that you can choose a friend but you cannot choose a neighbour. In the case of Rwanda and Tanzania we are friends, relatives and neighbours.
I have stressed the aforesaid deliberately because of what has transpired in the media over the last six months. If one were to believe what is written, one would think Rwanda and Tanzania are at loggerheads or at war. There is much that joins us than what would seem to be occasional misunderstandings between friends. The press played a prominent and extremely negative role in the events of 1994 in Rwanda. Has the fourth estate forgotten the part played by newspapers such as Kangura and other media like Radio Television Libre de Mille Collines, Radio Rwanda and Imvaho? Violent words do cause more injury than physical assault. Let us apply the pen and the internet to heal and not to incite hatred. I call upon the press in Tanzania and Rwanda to desist from actions which may harm relations between our governments, and between the people of Tanzania and the people of Rwanda.
What else do we do to normalize and strengthen the relationship between our two countries? Since the relationship is about people, we could start by reviving good neighbourliness visits and meetings at ward, district and provincial level. I have in mind Ngara district and Kagera Region in Tanzania and Kihere district and Eastern Province in Rwanda. We should also work towards the convening of the Rwanda – Tanzania Joint Commission which could serve as a basis for strengthening the relationship between our two countries. Clearly we must avoid letting the fourth estate replace normal diplomatic channels. We also urge road transporters to revive the daily bus services between Dar es Salaam and Kigali.
The youth constitute the majority of the people of Rwanda and Tanzania. In Rwanda 48 percent of the population is under 18. These were born after 1994, and 77 percent of the population is under 35. For Tanzania the statistics are not different. The future of our countries belongs to the present day youthful generation. On February, 2014, I had the occasion to visit the genocide memorial in Kigali. It was a sombre, tearful yet an extremely educative tour. I urge those of you who have not yet visited the memorial to do so. I also request the United Nations mission in Tanzania to work with our Ministry of Education and Vocational Training, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation and the Embassy of Rwanda in Tanzania to arrange guided tours of our secondary school students to the genocide memorial in Kigali.
Today is the special day for Tanzania too. For it is a day we commemorate the passing away one of the architects of the Zanzibar Revolution and our Union, the late Abeid Amani Karume (R.I.P).
Let me conclude by thanking H.E. Ben Rugangazi the High Commissioner of Rwanda to Tanzania, the organizers and participants of this historic event for the honour you have done me and the United Republic of Tanzania, to invite me to be the Guest of Honour.
We join Rwanda in rejecting, without reservation the ideology of genocide and in rejecting any move to revise or rewrite the history of the genocide.
Let all of us who are gathered here and elsewhere remember that the spirits of the victims of the genocide, residing in the beautiful a thousand hills and valleys of Rwanda, and in the Nyabarongo and Kagera rivers are watching us, to make sure that there is no repeat of the events of 1994. We must not let them down when we declare, once again, ‘never again’.
During his visit to eastern enclave of West Berlin on 26 June 1963, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy famously declared ‘Ich Bin Ein Berliner’. Today as we join Rwanda in commemorating the genocide of the Tutsi, let us all declare ‘Turi Abanyarwanda’
May the Grace of Almighty God be with you always.
Thank You, Asante Sana, Murakoze Chane.