Today, there is a growing interest in Rwanda, as many discover the horror that took place and seek to understand how and why violence of this character and magnitude could have happened in our time.
The spectrum of the Genocide has never ceased to haunt Rwandan consciousness.
The 100 days of remembrance leaves us with complex and pressing questions to ponder and with difficult answers as to why events occurred:
How could the genocide happen? What kind of history could give rise to this violence? Why did the international community fail to intervene? How can Rwanda continue to re-build and avoid similar debacles? How can the ideology of hate be terminated in Rwanda? These questions and many others have lingered in the minds of many Rwandans in the last two decades.
As we seek to answer the very complex question that led to the 1994 debacle, there is need for a paradigm shift from prejudice and bigotry to justice and tolerance – shifting from ideology of hate to that of love and bringing up good people that value humanity-- for the 1 million or so Rwandans who died is not a matter of abstract statistics.
Rwanda’s will and ability to prevent, deter, and respond to threats and ideologies of genocide calls for a long lasting campaign against genocide.
Early warning mechanisms form a very critical component in the prevention of genocide and mass atrocities and the campaign against genocide museum will, to this effect enhance how our governments’ approach the critical matter of preventing the world’s worst crimes.
At the helm of this cause, the Institute of National Museums of Rwanda(INMR) in partnership with Rwanda Defence Forces(RDF) are doing all it takes to see the dream come true, forecasting mass violence by developing an early warning system within the museum to explore key aspects in designing and operating such a system.
This campaign against genocide museum/centre will be a living memorial of genocide in Rwanda that will inspire citizens and leaders worldwide on how to confront hatred, prevent genocide and promote human dignity.
It will eventually teach us about the dangers of unchecked hatred and need to act by cultivating a sense of moral responsibility among our citizens.
Never Again is a challenge to societies and achieving must be a bottom-up approach, right from the grassroots. This will definitely lead to an improved public understanding of the past to create better citizens.
Rwandans ought to; avoid comparison of pain, use good precision of language, choose carefully the source of information and avoid stereotypical descriptions and most importantly avoid oversimplifying the Genocide.
Therefore, translating our memories to actions requires an all-round interdisciplinary approach to citizens’ education – an approach that helps Rwandans move from thought, judgment to participation.
Campaign against genocide museum will go an extra mile to cover a wider perspective of the public about genocide in Rwanda, how it was stopped and more so disseminate factual evidence of the same by raising awareness of the causes and dynamics of genocide to advocate and mobilise for appropriate action.
Each individual state has got the responsibility to protect its population from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.
Citizen education on genocide helps Rwandans to understand the forces that undermined peace and egalitarianism in Rwanda, betrayed a generation of youthful Rwandans and later to organized the genocide – for these forces are still with us. We need to educate our people to discover how their decisions make a meaningful difference in the community and a nation that Rwanda is.
Rwandans must remember – and pledge – that with never again, each person there is a name, an identity and a universe.
As our sages tell us, “whoever saves a single life, it is as if he or she has saved an entire universe.”
Conversely, whoever has killed a person; it is as if they have killed an entire universe. Thus, the abiding imperative: we are one, wherever we are the guarantors of each other’s destiny -- this is the only way that our memories can bear fruits of love, peace and harmony among Rwandans.
This shows that it is our obligation as Rwandans to write our own history – translate our thoughts into actions and participate in cultivating the ideology of love and pragmatism.
Most importantly participate and interact with the past for history does not have to always keep repeating itself.
We need to remember, as we make Rwanda’s history told, seen and preserved if we are to pay tribute to the past.
The goal is to create an illustrated narrative that will convey the events of genocide at both personal and national levels. It’s better to remember than to forget because if we do not remember then we do not have all the truth.
Let’s join our hands together as Rwandans in championing the struggle to remember – and celebrate – the survivors of the genocide – the true heroes of humanity. For they witnessed and endured the worst of inhumanity, but somehow found, in the depths of their own humanity, the courage to go on, to rebuild their lives as they helped build our communities.
David Nkusi -cultural heritage analyst/philosophical studies consult.