Ejo n’ejobundi: Portraying Genocide memories through street plays

The play features local and international actors . / Photos by Dan Nsengiyumva

On a rainy evening on November 17, Kigali Genocide Memorial hosted a theatrical production dubbed, Ejo n’ejobundi, loosely translated ‘yesterday, and after tomorrow.’

Staged under the theme: C’est quoi pour Vous la mémoire?, translated in English to mean, ‘what’s the memory for you?’, and played by Compagnie UZ et coutumes, the play portrays how Genocide memorials are being distorted. 

The three-day theatrical tour ended on Sunday evening, after it was performed at the University of Rwanda - Gikondo campus, and Car-free zone in downtown Kigali. 

Written by Dalila Boitaud Mazaudier, the piece indicates some of the areas where genocide denials were carried out including,  schools, courtrooms, memorial cites, bus parks, and cinemas.

The play did not only focus on the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi, but also the Holocaust, Bosnian genocide and Cambodian genocide. 

CNLG’s Jean-Damascène Bizimana delivers his remarks during the event.

Speaking at the event, Wajdi Mouawad, a Canadian-Lebanese author, said the play is not about Rwandans, but about all humanity.

Inspiration behind Ejo n’ejobundi

According to Dalila Boitaud Mazaudier, the author of the play, said Ejo n’ejobundi was inspired by ignorance and distorted information about the Genocide. It was also inspired by the recent appeal hearing of two genocide perpetrators Octavian Ngenzi and Tito Barahira, the former Mayors (Bourgmestres) of the former Kabarondo Commune, now part of the current Kayonza District, which took place in France.

Dalila said that, as an artist, she felt a sense of obligation to educate the public about the Genocide in a poetic way. 

The author noted that a lot of people are misinformed about the genocide, because they feed on fake news and fiction cinema as a reference.

But, “such plays are very important to show what is happening and what is being done about Genocide memorials”, she stressed.

Compagnie Uz et Coutumes stages Ejo n’ejobundi play at Kigali Genocide Memorial on November 17.

Jean-Damascène Bizimana, Executive Secretary at the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG), who was the guest of honour, emphasised the need for artistic media as a way to educate society about the Genocide.

“Conventional ways such as conferences and meetings are good, but sometimes not youth-friendly,” he said.

Public talks by university lecturers are being organised ahead of the international day of commemoration and dignity of the victims of the genocide and prevention of the genocide on December 9.

In partnership with the Commission for the Fight Against Genocide (CNLG), Compagnie UZ et Coutume will stage another play titled- Tout dépend du Nombre de Vaches, in March, next year.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com