Genocide survivor on remembering the past and fighting ideology

Brave Olivier Ngabo is a Genocide survivor and a programme manager at IBUKA. The latter is an umbrella organisation of Genocide survivors associations, in charge of planning, strategizing, fundraising and overseeing all the programmes and projects that are being implemented at the national level. Prior to this position, he worked in sales and marketing in different positions in three major telecoms in Rwanda for more than 11 years.

The 32-year-old is also currently the director of Nyanza-Kicukiro Genocide Memorial that is home to more than 96,450 victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. Sharon Kantengwa spoke to him about his line of work and fighting genocide ideology.


You left your marketing career to work at the memorial, what would you say has been the most full filling part about your line of work?


My duties involve managing the memorial, so I interact with various people from different countries with a different understanding of the history of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. My main job is to preserve the memory, which includes managing the memorial as testament of the Genocide, collecting testimonies of the survivors and teaching the history of the Genocide (in particular Nyanza Kicukiro). Through my job, I managed to create a project of extending and developing Genocide memorial such as, extending the wall of victim’s names — Garden of Memory, creating a museum and participating in the concept of Garden of Memory.


At IBUKA, I am happy to contribute towards supporting and improving the lives of Genocide survivors and their well-being, which includes dealing with trauma.

What has been your biggest challenge in your line of work?

I joined IBUKA three years ago and the very first challenge that I faced was listening to and digesting touching testimonies of survivors and grieving with them. But I’m happy with the way I have managed to change some people’s lives through the programmes, such as Hepatitis B vaccination for survivors, Unity and Reconciliation programme created in Butare that attracted several partners, and the digital library concept note that is still processing to support survivors countrywide.

In your own view, how can you describe the journey of Rwanda’s youth in fighting genocide ideology, as well as their role in supporting survivors?

The youth have improved a lot in the journey of fighting genocide ideology, whereby you see young people participating in commemoration events, reading the books that narrate our history, visiting the Genocide memorials countrywide with the intent of knowing what really happened. However, we still need to interest them more to join the battle that is mostly happening on social media platforms with genocide ideologists who keep denying our history and are trying to change it.

Regarding youth and their support towards Genocide survivors, I can say that some of them have been trying to participate in charity activities through different institutions, but we still need to come up with more activities that are not only related to financial assistance, but also moral support, especially for the elderly widows who have no children. These women need more of physical support like visits, and talking to them frequently so that they don’t feel the void.

What is your message for Rwandan youth in this period of commemoration?

I would like to invite and encourage the youth to participate in the commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi by reading books or watching video documentaries that narrate our history. And also take part in talk shows and ask questions, so that they can get more knowledge about the history, as well as listen to testimonies. They also need to be more creative artistically so that they can pass the message of commemoration in a “youthful language”, and use more social media platforms in commemorating and sharing the stories.

In this particular period of lockdown we can use all the necessary internet platforms to commemorate, by connecting a lot of youth around the world and creating panel discussions that are going to improve our knowledge about the history of the Genocide.

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