April is always a tough time as the country commemorates the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. It is hence of great significance that the youth (especially those born after the Genocide) understand what transpired during these tough times. But how best can this message be relayed to them?
Otim John Bosco, a teacher at Nu-Vision High School, Kabuga says as an educator, parent and a Christian, it is paramount for the children to know exactly what took place during the Genocide so that there is no chance to feed them on distorted and biased information.
He adds that this should be done very consciously so as to offer reassurance and comfort to the children, while at the same time avoiding alienating them against a particular group of people.
“I applaud the Government of Rwanda with its current initiatives of integrating these issues into the Competent Based Curriculum,” he notes.
According to Isa Kiyingi, a language teacher at CCI-Essi-Nyamirambo, being honest about tragedies is important, but remembering that we are talking to children is equally vital. The message of oneness, patriotism, human rights, tolerance, equality and equal opportunities should be deeply emphasised, he says.
Kiyingi states, “We can talk to children by pointing out the root cause of the Genocide, its effects and what they can do to prevent it. So, advise them on how they can handle their fellow students, they should not look at them as Tutsis or Hutus, but as Rwandans.”
Bertin Ganza Kanamugire, the founder of Afflatus Africa, an NGO that is behind the ‘Read for change initiative’ notes that regardless of how what happened and how bad it is, there is need to embrace it even though it destroyed the nation.
“Rwandans can’t run away from it, however, we should do what it takes to see that it never happens again,” he notes.
Kanamugire stresses that we should teach the country’s history from one generation to the next and that it should be everyone’s responsibility to do this for the young generation, this way the youth will also be able to teach the next generation.
He enlightens that there is need to use formal and informal ways to teach young people for basic education starts from home. Parents ought to teach their children by telling them the truth, how the Genocide was implemented and the price that was paid to rebuild the country.
“The government should integrate this lesson in academic curriculum. We should encourage the young generation to take time and read books written about the Genocide as it will give them an insight of what the Genocide really means. This can give them the power to fight Genocide ideology,” he says.
Claver Irakoze, the author of ‘That Child is Me’, a book that appropriately illustrates Rwanda’s dark past to the children notes that there should be a process that must be followed while explaining the miserable past to the young ones.
“You should use simple language and pictures that won’t create terror in their minds, as some videos incite trauma. You can still tell the truth of the history packaged in a manner that will help the kids to understand the message,” he notes.
Kanamugire says that information about the country’s past should be conveyed through platforms such as poems, songs and plays. This, he says can also be a channel of promoting unity and reconciliation for sustainable peace.
Irakoze explains that through storytelling, kids can know what exactly took place noting that listening to songs about the Genocide is also necessary as different people narrate the incident in different perspectives.
It is for this reason that he composed a song, called, ‘The Legacy of History’, whose video is illustrated in cartoon suitable for kids’ viewership yet full on meaning.
He believes that children do not have to watch scary films full of bloodshed because it might affect them psychologically yet there are many other ways to discuss about the Genocide for example through poems, writing or even drawings.
Know the kind of age you are addressing, it will help you know what to say to them and what to avoid, he says.
To him, after years of pain and loss of lives, what is important now is to teach kids forgiveness and love for one another.