This week marks the 18th anniversary of the start of the genocide. On April 6, 1994, the plane carrying the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi was shot down while landing at the Kigali airport. This was followed by 100 days of unthinkable violence and murder. Estimates vary, but most put the number at around 800,000 killed.
The 6th was a Friday. At the exact moment that the plane brought down eighteen years ago, I was having a plate of spicy tofu at my favorite Chinese restaurant. I was just a few miles from the airport.
This week is a memorial week. There are no classes, and many businesses and offices are open only for a half day. The city is quieter than usual, but not as much as I had expected. I went for a run today at dusk and the streets were no more or less busy than is typical.
Most of the time, I feel the genocide is everywhere and nowhere. Rwanda has made amazing progress since 1994. Kigali is clean, pleasant, and safe. There has been very little violence the last decade and poverty rates are declining. At the same time, I feel that the shadow of the genocide is subtly everywhere. Eighteen years is not that long ago.