Sorrowful wails and uncontrollable sobs resounded Monday as thousands of Rwandans packed the country's main sports stadium to mark the 20th anniversary of the beginning of a devastating 100-day genocide.
President Paul Kagame and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon together lit a flame at the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre, which estimates that 1,000,050 Rwandan perished in three months of machete and gunfire attacks mostly aimed at the country's minority Tutsi population by extremist Hutus.
"Twenty years ago today our country fell into deep ditches of darkness," said Rwanda's minister of foreign affairs, Louise Mushikiwabo. "Twenty years later, today, we are a country united and a nation elevated."
In the aftermath of the genocide, Rwandans felt alone, she said. But now friends around the world have joined "to commemorate the rebirth of our nation," she said.