Senate President Dr Jean-Damascène Ntawukuliryayo has urged the youth to advocate for peace and development by distancing themselves from political ideologies that could lead their countries into conflict.
He was addressing youth from different European and African countries this week at a youth session organised by Never Again Rwanda (NAR) in Kigali.
NAR is a human rights and peace-building organisation that advocates for peace building and it was created in 2002 in response to the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Ntawukuliryayo appealed to NAR members who had gathered at the Senate chamber of the Parliamentary Building in Kimihurura that as a young generation they had the responsibilities to determine the shape of their countries.
“We in leadership today are laying the foundation for you and we hope you will lead your countries even better than us. You must stick to leadership that has no discrimination and favoritism, not only in Rwanda, but also in other countries,” he said.
He gave them the example of the former Rwandan leadership that instead of advocating for peace building and development of the country, instead got involved in inciting its people to turn against each other, leading to the loss of over one million Rwandans in 1994.
Though the massive killings occurred, the head of the Senate mentioned that the new leadership was ready to drive the social-economic and political development in the country without discrimination.
Some participants, especially those from outside Rwanda, posed questions to their host on various issues in the country, including the political structures, unity and reconciliation.
Twenty-year-old Floriane Niyungeko from Burundi said that such forums help them learn from others by sharing experiences.
“I have learnt a lot, especially on how to change my behavior and avoid involving in any activities that can cause the suffering of others,” he said.
Never Again has members across the world and it’s further aimed at empowering the youth with opportunities to become active citizens through peace building and development.
Jens Koscher, a German national who is also a peace and security student from the University of Bradford in the United Kingdom, observed in an interview that though both countries experienced the genocide, Rwandans had advanced in terms of reconciliation.
“What I have learnt in Rwanda is that love can overcome everything. We have visited different parts of the country, especially survivors and perpetrators, and people are living in harmony,” the student said.
The Executive Director of Never Again Rwanda, Eric Mahoro, noted that the organisation’s members had come to learn from Rwanda in peace building, a trip that also enabled them to visit genocide memorials in the country and get lectures from various experts.