US and British first ladies visit Rwanda

Cherie Blair and US first lady Laura Bush were heading for Rwanda today to remember the nation’s genocide and try to learn from it.

Cherie Blair and US first lady Laura Bush were heading for Rwanda today to remember the nation’s genocide and try to learn from it.

Mrs Bush was closing out a week-long trip through Africa. She and Mrs Blair were to lay wreaths today at the genocide memorial at Gisozi in the Rwandan capital, Kigali.

Some 250,000 genocide victims are buried at Gisozi, one of the many hills that dot Kigali. Their graves and a long granite wall engraved with their names have become a sombre first stop for many visitors to Rwanda, where Hutu militias and civilians killed nearly half a million minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus in 1994.

“I look forward to talking with both the first lady of Rwanda, as well as the president of Rwanda, about what the rest of the world can do in situations similar to this, like in Darfur, and see what they think is the best way for the world to help in situations like their genocide,” the US first lady said yesterday.

Cherie Blair stopped in neighbouring Kenya on her way to Rwanda today, visiting a children’s sports centre in the capital, Nairobi. Mrs Blair saw a photo exhibition of the Mathare Youth Sports Association’s 18-year history and work, danced with a children’s music group and thanked world marathon record holder Paul Tergat, who was also a guest, for supporting London’s winning bid to host the 2012 Olympics.

“The fact that one of your number has gone to be a Rhodes scholar (at Oxford University), I can’t tell you how absolutely fantastic that is,” Mrs Blair said, referring to a member of the association she was told about who is now studying at Oxford.

She then donated to the 15,000-member Mathare Youth Sports Association, London 2012 bid T-shirts and bags together with some footballs, cricket bats and badminton rackets.

More in this section

IE_logo_newsletters

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox