By Elias Hakizimana.
The young generation of Rwanda who were born after the Genocide perpetrated against the Tutsi in Rwanda in 1994 have been encouraged to write stories about this history in a way of healing and preventing genocide ideology.
The call was made by Never Again Rwanda on Thursday April 18, 2019 in Kigali during the 8th National Youth Conference on commemoration policy and practice of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
The one-day conference attracted Rwandan youth and other key stakeholders in the healing and memory sector under the theme: “Kwibuka 25: Engaging youth in memory and healing—Building a better future.”
Youth were urged to preserve the memory of Genocide, eradicate its ideology and deal with the genocide consequences by writing stories in this regard.
Why is memory important in a post-genocide context?
Speaking to the media, Dr. Joseph Nkurunziza Ryarasa, Executive Director of Never Again Rwanda said that youth as the country’s future must enhance their knowledge about the history of their country to ensure that never again becomes a clarity and to fight against the existing negative forces of Genocide denial and revisionism.
“The memories of genocide exist: survivors’ testimonies, and others, that can help youth born after the Genocide to write books. When youth are effectively engaged in writing books about genocide, it can contribute to tackling genocide deniers and those holding genocide ideology,” Nkurunziza told the media.
He said that since its inception 8 years ago, the platform has enabled youth to be open to ask about the genocide against the Tutsi and to be healed of wounds left by this bad history.
“Youth make 60 percent of Rwanda’s population, if we empower this population to be able to document the stories about genocide, they will convince the next generation to have the right information,” he said.
Nkurunziza called on youth to use every moment with the older generation to learn about the country’s history and write about it for the next generations.
He told participants that despite available platforms, youth still need to be provided with safe spaces to discuss about and heal some of their wounds which could hinder their participation to build their country as decent citizens.
In her closing remarks, Ariane Inkesha, International Organization for Peacebuilding representative echoed the importance of commemoration and the role of youth in preserving memory to ensure future generations are peaceful.
Fidèle Ndayisaba, Executive Secretary of National Unity and Reconciliation Commission, reminded youth of the privilege they have to live in a post-genocide country that emphasizes learning about Rwanda’s history in order to prevent future atrocities
Imfuranzima made a first step
Fred Imfuranzima, 21, was born after Genocide and has written two books about the history of genocide against the Tutsi.
His first book about genocide dubbed ‘Urwandiko ruvuye ku Gasozi i Bututsi’ that took him three years was written from Rusatira in former ‘Butare’ current Huye District in Southern Province where he was studying.
“I was participating in Kwibuka – Genocide commemoration – when I was a senior four student in Huye District and I heard of over 43,000 bodies of victims, which pushed me to write a book that documents that history. I was before the author of children’s books but by then I took the initiative to write about the Genocide history,” he said.
He said writing this history helps him to know it himself and encourage more youth to do the same.
His second book is about the Genocide ‘Dreams to Find another World’ that contains Rwandans’ testimonies on the genocide against the Tutsi.
Imfuranzima has a variety of books yet to be published due to financial capacity to work with publishing houses and disseminate a big number of books.
The first conference was organised in 2012 with the aim to provide a platform for young people to voice their concerns and give their views on policy and practice of commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
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