Foreign Policy Magazine

False Idols

Is the Rwandan government using museums to commemorate the past—or cement its grip on power?

In Rwanda, April 7 is a public holiday of the most tragic kind: the annual commemoration of the 1994 genocide of nearly a million people. One of the sites that host remembrances is the Kigali Genocide Memorial, a museum honoring victims—including some 250,000 buried in mass graves beneath the facility. Rwanda’s most prominent genocide tribute attracts plenty of international attention. On the mass slaughter’s 20th anniversary, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon lit a flame there; Lonely Planet recommends it as a “top choice” for tourists, tens of thousands of whom visit it each year. To these guests, the museum delivers a clear message on behalf of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), the country’s ruling force

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