Millions around the world are expected to join Rwandans tomorrow in what has been dubbed ‘Global Umuganda’ (Day of Global Service), during which participants will clean streets and neighbourhoods in keeping with the spirit of the Rwandan homegrown Umuganda exercise.
It is the first time that the rest of the world will be partaking in the exercise in a show of solidarity with the people of Rwanda, with tomorrow’s event particularly focused on the upcoming 20th commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
More than a million Rwandans were killed in 100 days at the hands of a genocidal regime two decades ago, and Umuganda has been hailed as a major facilitator of unity and reconciliation in the post-Genocide Rwanda since it has helped bring together survivors and the perpetrators.
From Kampala to Montreal, Kuala Lampul to London, people will come together to clean their streets in honour of the victims and survivors of the Genocide against the Tutsi.
In Rwanda, the primary goal of Umuganda held monthly is to create a clean environment, but it has also served as a tool to get people to discuss the country’s tragic history and take collective action designed to build a better future.
In Kampala, Uganda, a group known as United Peace Messengers urged people to gather tomorrow and clean up one of the city slum areas, Bwaise.
“Bwaise is the deprived slum area in the capital city of Kampala officially housing over 300,000 people. The majority of the population there are grossly marginalised youth and women. Over 300 children are living with HIV/Aids and over 400 girls and women between 13 and 40 years are engaged in sex trade, so now you have an idea of people we will be with on Saturday,” the group said on its Facebook page.
In Toronto, Canada, Rwandans and Canadians, in collaboration with Sojourn House Shelter and Toronto Community Housing, will meet to volunteer at a local shelter and youth job fair.
The same will be the case in the Canadian capital Ottawa, where residents will come together to do community service in new Edinburgh pub, Beechwood avenue, as well as in Malaysian, Indian and UK streets.
People associated with this exercise can post planned events on the website kwibuka.rw.
The website carries content about the Kwibuka20 (Remembrance20) as Rwanda edges closer to the official Genocide commemoration week, which runs from April 7 through April 13.
Kwibuka20 events have taken place around the world, including in countries like Afghanistan, Botswana, Finland, India, Ukraine, UK, US, , among others.
“Whether it’s donating your time at a soup kitchen, contributing to a community garden, or hosting a book drive for a neighbouring town, Umuganda is about coming together to improve the world around us,” a message on kwibuka20 website reads.
Meanwhile, today, over 350 young Rwandans drawn from across the country are meeting in Musanze District for what’s been dubbed a ‘Kwibuka Conversation’.
The event, organised by the Imbuto Foundation in partnership with the Ministry of Youth and ICT, will attract members of the Urunana rw’Urungano, the youths who previously participated in the Ndi Umunyarwanda (I am Rwandan) forums, according to organisers.
“Participants will take part in a conversation to reflect on the history of Rwanda, the role of Ndi Umunyarwanda in building unity and reconciliation and the important responsibility young people have in national development,” a statement from Imbuto Foundation read in part.
Tomorrow, Saturday, participants will join the Kwibuka20 Global Umuganda with members of the Musanze community, it added.
During the Kwibuka Conversation, various speakers will address the youth on the Kwibuka20 theme: Remember, Unite, Renew. Under ‘Remember’, Tom Ndahiro, a genocide scholar, will discuss the stages of genocide: classification, dehumanisation, polarisation, discrimination, persecution, preparation, extermination and denial; as well as the role of leaders and the media in making the 1994 Genocide happen.
Defence and Military Spokesperson Brig Gen Joseph Nzabamwita and the Nyarugenge district mayor, Solange Mukasonga, will talk about ‘Unite’. Nzabamwita will talk about the purpose of the struggle from a unity perspective; the effort and sacrifice required to achieve Rwandan unity; and the cost of being disunited, according to organisers.
Mukasonga will talk about the progress of present day Rwanda as a result of working together as Rwandans, different development programmes and how they have helped us achieve shared prosperity.
MP Jeanne d’Arc Uwimanimpaye and Southern Province Governor Alphonse Munyentwali will discuss the concept of ‘Renew’. “This session will be about the expectations Rwanda has of its youth and how to make conscious decisions to do the right thing for your country. Governor Munyentwali will tell the youth how they can safeguard the gains the country has made since 1994.”
Participants will discuss all presentations in more depth, during smaller group discussions. They will also discuss their role in efforts to strengthen the Ndi Umunyarwanda campaign, which seeks to cement Rwandans’ unity and common identity.