Ecobank Rwanda commemorates Genocide against Tutsi, pledges to support national development

Ecobank Rwanda paid homage to the victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi while reaffirming its dedication to fostering inclusive growth and providing financial services that benefit all Rwandans. The bank’s executives made this commitment clear on Wednesday, April 17 during a commemorative event held at the Kigali Genocide Memorial.

The event began with Senior Executives from the bank and staff touring the memorial, delving into the history of the atrocities committed and acknowledging efforts to halt the Genocide. The group paid respects by laying wreaths on one of the mass graves at the memorial site, which holds the remains of over 250,000 individuals.

“We all grew up subjected to divisionism at school, where certain privileges were denied to us because we were Tutsi. In 1990, when Inkotanyi started the liberation struggle, things started getting bad,” recalled Chantal Wibabara, a staff member and survivor of the Genocide, reflecting on her childhood experiences.

Wibabara recounted one of her worst days: “My mother received news that her brother and two children had been killed. She started crying, insisting she wouldn’t believe it unless she saw the bodies. Since I couldn’t leave her alone, I tried to console her by saying, ‘Two are gone, but you still have two other children.’ However, upon reflection, any parent knows the love they have for their children and the devastating impact of losing one.

She recounted the harrowing events of the genocide, where her family and neighbors were attacked and killed while fleeing together. They were taken to a hill where pits had been dug for their bodies, forced inside, and then abruptly pulled out. The Interahamwe militia directed them towards a stadium. Seeking refuge at Petit Seminaire Kabgayi, they witnessed people being caught and killed.

Wibabara tragically lost most of her family, describing it as “a very traumatic experience.”

She emphasised that the peace Rwanda enjoys today is the result of immense sacrifices. “The Inkotanyi army, composed mostly of young people driven by love for their country, set aside everything else to stop the Genocide. Those who lost their lives were individuals with promising futures ahead of them. This underscores the importance for young people to understand Rwanda’s history and honour the memories of those lost.”

Wibabara called on parents to be catalysts for change by instilling unity and resilience in their children, teaching them the truth, and not shielding them from difficult realities. As a survivor herself, she takes pride in the nation’s resilience and believes that “our children will inherit a brighter future.”

Richard Mugisha, the Chairperson of the board of Ecobank Rwanda, reflected on Wibabara’s harrowing survival story and emphasised the collective understanding among Rwandans of how deeply the Genocide impacted everyone.

He expressed solidarity with all survivors, acknowledging their resilience in rebuilding a society that had been shattered. Mugisha highlighted the importance of mutual accountability and affection, values that were undermined during the Genocide and now require sustained effort to restore.

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Mugisha emphasised that rebuilding social connections and fostering an inclusive society are ongoing processes that demand daily commitment.

In reference to Ecobank’s role in Rwanda’s economy, Mugisha reiterated the institution’s commitment, “Ecobank significantly contributes to the country’s economy as a financial institution and we are dedicated to ensuring that the tragic events of the past never occur again. Let’s keep this commitment in mind as we fulfil our roles, show mutual respect, and serve our customers with excellence, all contributing to the development of a better Rwanda.”

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Alphonse Munyentwari, Country Director of Aegis Trust, a non-profit organisation dedicated to preventing genocide and mass atrocities, emphasised the complex sequence of events leading to genocide, noting that the country itself was systematically undermined long before its people faced harm.

He highlighted the deliberate cultural dismantling initiated by colonisers, targeting key aspects of unity such as Umuganura, the harvest festival, and traditional governance structures. Munyentwari illustrated the erosion of indigenous authority, detailing how decisions were gradually wrested from local leaders and centralised under colonial rule, ultimately contributing to Rwanda’s decline.

By 1959, the country had lost its cohesive identity, fueling violence and displacement as tribal divisions were amplified by socioeconomic shifts. Munyentwari criticized the arbitrary categorization of tribes in identification documents, exacerbating existing tensions. Even as Rwanda attained independence, the damage was irreparable, with leadership and societal cohesion already compromised beyond repair.

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