April holidays are usually the shortest yet exceptionally emotion packed, given that this is also the month when we commemorate the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. Given the nature of this vacation, children should not be left to their own devices.
Usually, parents accord their children the freedom to party, watch TV, chat with friends on social media or even just run around and play with their peers- something very healthy; if anything, it is school break. Some parents even take their children on vacation in, say Dubai or other countries, far from the gloomy memories in the country’s history. Well, your reasons are compelling, I must say. Rwandans of all walks of life navigate this complex riptide of emotion every day, each in his or her own way. It is far more art than science and most people would rather just avoid it.
The truth is that remembering is a tricky thing. It can release a river of volatile emotions that can drown you in sorrow or shame, and it can also unleash a torrent of vengeful anger. However, forgetting is equally treacherous, lest those who were lost died in vain or the crucial lessons learned are not passed on to future generations- our children.
It is important to learn about the Genocide, because, informing people about it, especially future generations, is one way of preventing it from occurring again. After the youth get a clear understanding of what happened in Rwanda in 1994, it will be easier for them to identify actions they can take – both as individuals and as groups – to build on the Government’s reconciliatory efforts and to ensure that genocide does not happen again.
For this reason, parents should take active teacher roles this holiday to go through the sad memories ones again with their children; to celebrate the heroes who died; to inculcate values of humanity in them. It is the most effective way to deal with the rising incidences of genocide denial, revisionism or even negation resulting from misinformation by some international parties who have no idea, whatsoever, of what happened here and who think they can write our history better than us.
It is understandable that we are busy and that our children deserve to be happy. But then again if we lose track of history by choosing the short-lived-TV pleasures to indulge our pain, we will be treating symptoms and not the disease. The only way to ensure that genocide never occurs again is to inculcate strong convictions among our children on the values of humanity using history. Share family time with your children, revising history so that it never repeats itself. Encourage the grown ones to participate in walks to remember or visit the memorial sites- they need to be a part of this.
The writer is a Language Consultant