#Rwanda: Kagame talks cousin’s brutal murder during the Genocide

President Kagame has revealed how the genocidaries ruthlessly killed his cousin before the RPA could seize control of Kigali, the country’s capital.

As Rwanda commemorates the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi for 30 years, survivors are brought back to memory of the brutal and agonizing fight they endured over the course of 100 days, during which many of them lost the majority of their loved ones.

Some trees were reduced to just one. Rwanda honors the over a million lives lost during the Genocide on April 7 of each year by lighting a Flame of Remembrance at the Kigali Genocide Memorial, which burns for 100 days.

During his speech during the 30th anniversary celebration at BK Arena, President Paul Kagame revealed a personal anecdote that he typically keeps to himself.

It tells the tale of how his cousin Florence was abandoned to perish at the hands of a murderous militia while peacekeeping forces were told to defend foreigners and diplomats. A meaningful tale that relates to two facets of life and that many Rwandans may identify with.

After more than fifteen years of service with the UNDP in Rwanda in 1994, Florence was left stranded in her home near the army barracks of Camp Kigali alongside her niece, other kids, and neighbors due to the genocide.

“The telephone in Florence’s house still worked, and I called her several times using my satellite phone. Each time we spoke, she was more desperate. But our forces could not reach the area.”

General Romeo Dallaire, the head of the UN peacekeeping force in Rwanda, urged Kagame to save Florence at that time while he was visiting him in Mulindi. Dallaire responded that he would try.

“The last time I talked to her, I asked her if anyone had come. She said no, and started crying. Then she said, ‘Paul, you should stop trying to save us. We don’t want to live anymore anyway.’ And she hung up,” he recalls. While he had a very strong heart, Kagame felt it weakened a bit because he understood what she meant.

“On the morning of May 16th, following a month of torture, they were all killed, except for one niece, who managed to escape, thanks to a good neighbour. It later emerged that a Rwandan working at the UNDP betrayed his Tutsi colleagues to the killers.”

Kagame claims that witnesses recall the traitor rejoicing over Florence’s murder the night following the assault, and he carried on working for the UN for many years even after it became clear that he was implicated.

“He is still a free man, now living in France.”

Upon questioning Dallaire, Kagame learned that his forces had turned back after coming upon a militia roadblock close to the residence. In the meantime, Dallaire carried a directive from the US ambassador to defend foreign citizens and diplomats traveling to Burundi by car against militia attacks.

“These two things happened at the same time. I did not need to be instructed to do something that goes without saying. That’s what I was going to do,” Kagame said.

“I do not blame General Dallaire. He is a good man who did the best that could be done in the worst conditions imaginable, and who has consistently borne witness to the truth, despite the personal cost.”

President Kagame disclosed the brutal death of his cousins and nieces. [RBA]
President Kagame and First lady Jeannette Kagame laid flowers at the Gisozi memorial site. [RBA]

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