Last Sunday, in full sunlight in front of Leeds Town Hall, a lit torch was handed over to representatives of the small Rwandan community in Leeds in remembrance of the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
In a matter of weeks after April 6, 1994, some 800,000 men, women, and children perished in the Rwandan genocide, perhaps as many as three quarters of the Tutsi population. At the same time, thousands of Hutu were murdered because they opposed the killing campaign and the forces directing it.
1994 was only 20 years ago. It seems unbelievable that a genocide of this scale could have happened in such a short time so recently. But then again, given continual internecine killing in so many places across the globe even today, it’s chillingly not so unbelievable.
So on Sunday, Leeds’ Rwandans remembered their trauma, supported by their neighbours of Ugandan and Burundi origin; an Anglican minister; a couple of other communities professionals; and a not insignificant number of Leeds Jews. The group slowly marched from the city centre to a community centre in Lincoln Green where we heard testimonies and prayers.
We marched. We remember.