Kigali Genocide Memorial

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Kigali Genocide Memorial2020-04-14T02:17:45+01:00

Built in Rwanda’s capital at a site where some 250,000 victims of Rwanda’s 1994 genocide lie buried, the Kigali Genocide Memorial is a place of remembrance and learning which hosts tens of thousands of visitors each year, from Rwandan school students to international celebrities and politicians.

In Tripadvisor’s 2015 ‘Travellers Choice’ awards, it is one of the top ten landmarks to visit in Africa.

Established by the Aegis Trust in 2004 at the request of the Rwandan authorities, the Memorial continues to be run by Aegis under contract to CNLG – Rwanda’s National Commission for the Fight Against Genocide.

Comprising exhibitions, memorial gardens, educational facilities and the Genocide Archive of Rwanda, the Memorial plays a vital role within Rwandan national, social and cultural identity as a place of remembrance for survivors and education, both for the young and for wider Rwandan society. It is also a site of learning highly relevant to the international community, as policy makers strive to improve response to mass atrocities and the effectiveness of systems for prevention.

KIGALI GENOCIDE MEMORIAL: OFFICIAL SITE

A place of memory: Some 250,000 Tutsis were killed in Kigali during the genocide. In its wake the authorities organised mass burial here, but thousands of victims remained in smaller mass graves around the city. Over nine thousand have received a dignified reburial here since the Memorial opened alongside the mass graves in 2004. Main exhibition: Filling the basement floor of the Memorial, this exhibition details events in Rwanda before, during and after the genocide. Elements include audio, video and artefacts from the genocide itself. One area contains photos of victims as they were in life, provided by surviving family members. Our future lost: this powerful exhibition is dedicated to the memory of the many thousands of children whose lives were so cruelly cut short. Fourteen images, each of a child murdered in 1994, are illuminated by daylight and accompanied by brief text about how each individual lived and died. Here being viewed by Christine Lagarde. Wasted Lives: this exhibition details some of the major instances of genocide and mass atrocities which occurred through the 20th Century around the World – in particular involving the Hereros, the Armenians, the Holocaust, Cambodia and the Balkans. Amphitheatre: Made possible thanks 
to support from the UK, Sweden, Korea, the Netherlands and Japan, the Memorial’s new classrooms and amphitheatre (seen under construction here) were completed in April 2014 and mark Phase One of a major planned expansion for the Kigali Genocide Memorial. Learning for the future: the peace education programme first piloted by Aegis at the Kigali Genocide Memorial – taking lessons from the past to promote unity and reconciliation – has since gone nationwide in Rwanda, informing the development of a peace education component added to the Schools Curriculum in 2015. Genocide Archive: opened at the Kigali Genocide Memorial by then Prime Minister Bernard Makuza in 2010, the Genocide Archive of Rwanda is set to become the principle point of access for all physical and digital information relating to the genocide. Books and gifts: Visitors to the Kigali Genocide Memorial can use the gift shop to buy a range of books about the events of 1994. Traditional crafts are also available, with all profits helping to support both upkeep of the site and the continuing work of peace education. Café: part of Aegis’ social enterprises in Rwanda, the Café at the Memorial helps to support both the site itself and Aegis’ peacebuilding work. It’s a great place to eat, think and reflect on your visit – and it serves some of the best coffee in town.

Located in Gisozi in the northwest corner of Kigali, the Memorial is easy to access by road from anywhere in the city, taking no more than 10 or 15 minutes by taxi or moto from the centre of town if the traffic is reasonable. If you have time to spare and want to experience Kigali on foot, you could even walk there, but there are no other major visitor attractions in the immediate vicinity.
You won’t get there quickly if it’s the morning of the third Saturday in the month; during ‘Umuganda’, a sort of collective national monthly tidy-up, the taxis and motos don’t run. If planning a visit around lunch, have it at the Memorial – the café is excellent.

There are three permanent exhibitions at the Kigali Genocide Memorial. The main exhibition, which takes up the entire basement floor, explores the history of Rwanda during its slide into genocide, the 100 days of genocide itself, and the aftermath. ‘Our future lost’ is an exhibition about the experiences of children during the genocide, and ‘Wasted Lives’ looks at the Holocaust and other genocides through the 20th Century.
Audio guides, available for hire from reception, offer helpful information about the exhibitions, memorial gardens and mass graves. If you’re visiting in a group, you might want to book one of the guides team to take you round in person. There is also a book shop and a café where you can reflect on your visit; these are both social enterprises supporting the work of the Aegis Trust.

To visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial, there’s no need to pre-book. The Memorial is open 8.00am – 5.00pm (last entry 4.00pm), seven days a week; closed only for public holidays.

To find out more about the Genocide Archive of Rwanda, which is located at the Memorial, visit www.genocidearchiverwanda.org.rw.
If you’re a journalist or filmmaker with a query relating to the Memorial, please contact our Media team.

If you’re visiting Rwanda and looking for great value accommodation, why not support Aegis and the Kigali Genocide Memorial by staying at the Discover Rwanda Youth Hostel?

“You are the stone on which we will build a Rwanda without conflict.”
Bernard Makuza, Prime Minister of Rwanda, 2004
“Nobody who comes to this memorial is ever the same when they leave.”
Samantha Power, US Ambassador to the UN
“This memorial … it is home to the loved ones we buried.”
Donatille Nibagwire, Genocide survivor
“A warning and a symbol of hope … each time I have been moved to tears.”
Ban Ki Moon, UN Secretary General
“Profoundly important … It faithfully, honestly, painfully presents the truth.”
Bill Clinton, 42nd President of the United States