Today I went to the Kigali Genocide Memorial. I thought it was important to find the time to go.
I think the news coverage of the genocide in April 1994 was the first time I was aware of Rwanda as a country. A million people died in 100 days. It was shocking at the time, and today, the toughest part of the memorial, is the children’s room, with photographs of infants who never reached school age.
And now, 29 years later (kwibuka in the photo means remember), Rwanda is, it seems to me, a peaceful, thriving country.
I’m almost 60 years old. I have learned that things can change faster than you expect. In my teens, in the early 1980s, South Africa was an international pariah because of its apartheid policies. I was one of the many to boycott South African apples and wine and Barclays Bank. If you’d asked me then about going to South Africe I would have said I would never go.
Things changed in 1989. By 1997 I was working on a project in Pretoria and I’ve been back to South Africa twice more since then. It’s probably best to never say never.
Instead we should celebrate the people who have the character to unify divided societies; people who can communicate an inclusive vision and then realise it.