Thirty Years After a Genocide in Rwanda, Painful Memories Run Deep

When the marauding militiamen arrived at her door on that morning in April 1994, Florence Mukantaganda knew there was nowhere to run.

It was only three days into the devastating 100-day genocide in Rwanda, when militiamen rampaged through the streets and people’s homes in a bloodshed that forever upended life in the Central African nation. As the men entered her home, Ms. Mukantaganda said her husband, a preacher, prayed for her and their two small children and furtively told her where he had hidden some money in case she survived.

He then said his final words to her before he was hacked to death with a hoe.

“He told me, ‘When they come for you, you have to be strong, you have to die strong,’” Ms. Mukantaganda, 53, recalled on a recent morning at her home in Kabuga, a small town about 10 miles east of Kigali, the Rwandan capital. “There was nothing we could do but wait for our time to die.”

The agony of those harrowing days will loom large for many on Sunday as Rwanda marks the 30th anniversary of the genocide in which extremists from the country’s ethnic Hutu majority killed some 800,000 people — most of them ethnic Tutsis — using machetes, clubs and guns.

President Paul Kagame of Rwanda is presiding over the event, which brought together leaders and dignitaries from Africa and around the world.

Those include Bill Clinton, who, as president of the United States at the time of the genocide, previously acknowledged America’s failure to swiftly stop the bloodshed. President Emmanuel Macron of France, who is not attending the event but has in recent years talked of France’s role in the genocide, is set to release a video saying that his country and its Western and African allies lacked the will to halt the slaughter.

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