The Kigali Memorial Centre at Gisozi was opened on the 10th Anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide, in April 2004. The Centre in Kigali was created by a joint partnership of the Kigali City Council and the UK-based Aegis Trust. The creation of the Kigali Memorial Centre was funded by a number of donors worldwide.
It contains a permanent exhibition of the Rwandan genocide and an exhibition of other genocides around the world. The Aegis Trust actively seeks the prevention of Genocide world wide. The Centre includes three permanent exhibitions, the largest of which documents the genocide in 1994. There is also a children’s memorial, and an exhibition on the history of genocidal violence around the world. The Education Centre, Memorial Gardens and National Documentation Centre of the Genocide all contribute to a meaningful tribute to those who perished, and form a powerful educational tool for the next generation.In 2000, the Kigali City Council began to construct the shell of a building, which was eventually to become the Memorial Centre.
Aegis was invited to turn the aspiration for a centre into a reality.The Aegis Trust then began to collect data from across the world to create the three graphical exhibits. The text for all three exhibitions was printed in three languages, designed in the UK at the Aegis head office by their design team, and shipped to Rwanda to be installed.
The Kigali Memorial Centre is an international centre. It deals with a topic of international importance, with far-reaching significance, and is designed to engage and challenge an international visitor base.The response from genocide survivors to the creation of the Centre was unpredicted. In the first week, over 1,500 survivors visited each day. In the first three months of the Centre's opening, around 60,000 people from a variety of backgrounds visited it. Over 7,000 of these visitors were from the International Community.
Other Important Rwanda genocide Memorials.
Murambi Memorial Centre: A school where 27,000 people were killed. A stark, shocking monument, hundreds of corpses are temporarily preserved and currently displayed in the school. The memorial has been developed as a permanent exhibition to the genocide. It documents from pre-colonial times to the more recent history of the 1994 genocide. The design focuses on developing a memorial from which the school children and local community can benefit.With the construction of the centre at Murambi in its final stages of completion, it is currently planned that its official opening will take place later this year.
Nyamata Memorial Site: This site is a church where around 2,500 people were killed and it has become emblematic of the barbaric treatment of women during the genocide. In the church at Nyamata, there will be graphic and audio-visual displays that will focus particularly on the mass rape, brutalisation of women and the use of HIV as a deliberate weapon of genocide
Ntarama Memorial Site: Ntarama is a town in the rural Kigali Province, situated in an area known as Bugesera. The association of Bugesera with genocidal development is a long one. For decades,there have been forced population movements and frequent massacres.About an hour’s drive southwards from Rwanda’s capital city, Kigali, the red-brick church at Ntarama is peacefully situated, shadowed by acacia trees. Ntarama Church, however, is the site where some of the most brutal killings of the 1994 Rwandan genocide took place. The church at Ntarama was seen as a safe place by almost 5000 people, many of whom were women and children and who went there for sanctuary. But Ntarama was not a safe place. The victims of the genocide remain there, their bones still strewn with lifeless chaos where they fell nearly ten years ago. Their belongings cover the floor; clothes, suitcases, a child’s white sock - the last remnants of a desperate flight for life.
Bisesero Memorial Site: Bisesero is set in the hills of the Kibuye province of West Rwanda where some 30,000 people were killed. The region around Bisesero has become known for the acts of resistance from Tutsis who tried to organise themselves against the massacre. This was mostly unsuccessful as they were fighting with sticks against well-armed and trained soldiers.
Nyanza Memorial Site: At the start of the genocide in April 1994, over 2,000 Tutsis took refuge in ETO school on the outskirts of Kigali, protected by the United Nations Peace Keeping force. Following the withdrawal of the UN, refugees were marched up the road to Nyanza where they were all butchered. Today, this site, marked by simple wooden crosses, is symbolic of the abandonment of Rwanda by the International Community.Each year on April 11th, a memorial ceremony takes place on the site where the deserted refugees were murdered in cold blood.
Nyarubuye Memorial Site: A convent and school where 20,000 people were killed. These people had been trying to escape over the border to Tanzania. During 2003, the school became functional again; the convent, however, remains empty, apart from the bones of the victims, and will be turned into a memorial and education centre.