Everything will remain as it is and within that luxury Rwanda tells its history and culture. The small East-African country plans to transform the luxurious palace of assassinated President Juvenal Habyarimana into a museum to promote reconciliation 14 years after his death, which triggered the genocide in the central African nation.
Habyarimana died on 6 April 1994, when his private jet was shot down close to the presidential palace near Kigali, Rwanda's capitol. Rwanda has decided to transform his house into a genocide museum "to showcase Rwanda in its entirety and promote Rwandan culture, unity and reconciliation." The memorial is expected to be inaugurated early next year.
Habyarimana's former residence is located in Kanombe, some 20 kilometres from central Kigali. The eight-bedroom presidential palace has been left much as it was that day in 1994, with big leather couches, gold-plated French-style chandeliers and carpets still in place. The premises also house a nightclub, a small church and shrine.
"Everything will remain as it is and within that luxury we want to tell the history and culture of Rwanda," said John Butoto, who is overseeing the museum conversion project. "Our children should grow up knowing that what happened was very bad and should never be repeated," he added.
The house will tell the story of the 1994 bloodshed, including exhibits of some of the machetes and hoes used by militias to carry out the slaughter. Part of the wreckage of Habyarimana's plane will be displayed in the museum as well. "It is a museum that will serve future generations in the struggle to ensure there is never another genocide," says Joseph Habineza, Rwanda's Minister of Sports and Culture.
Habyarimana's assassination controversy
Habyarimana's death was a catalyst for the mass slaughter that began the next day on 7 April 1994. According to the United Nations, around 800,000 minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered in the few weeks that followed.
Who shot down the plane has never been firmly established. Rwanda's President Paul Kagame has said Habyarimana, a Hutu, was killed by Hutu extremists who then blamed the incident on Tutsi rebels, led by Kagame himself, to provide the pretext for the genocide. French and Spanish judges have accused Kagame and other senior officials of shooting it down, allegations they have always denied.