Youth urged to reflect on the significance of reading on nation-building

(From L-R) - Samantha Lakin, Jean Michel Habineza(moderator) and Peter Sosi, during the reading for change discussions at Kigali Public Library, Kacyiru. Joan Mbabazi.

As we commemorate 25 years of the Genocide against the Tutsi, youth were advised to embrace a reading culture because books can inspire, heal, empower and bring hope to a nation.

This message was conveyed during the “13th edition of reading for change,” that was held last week at the Kigali Public Library, Kacyiru.

The event was held under the theme, ‘Literature’s role in peace building and unity’ with an aim of stirring a reading culture among the young generation.

Discussants and the audience shared the platform as they explored the purpose of reading for peace building. 

According to Bertin Ganza Kanamugire, the CEO of Afflatus Africa, an NGO behind the initiative of reading for change; through reading, the young generation can learn about Rwandan’s history, its causes and consequences.

“This history can help us learn about our past, understand our present situation and think about the future. Everything you need is in the books, including the problems and solutions,” he said.

When you read, you use critical thinking and have a different perspective about life, this is why the youth should not accept ignorance, he noted.

“Through reading, one can learn the steps of how to forgive yourself and others. This helps the mind to know the truth hence cultivating self-compassion and unconditional love and adopting the will and choice to living according to justice.”

Author Samantha Lakin stressed that while the nation grieves for the souls lost in the Genocide against the Tutsi, it is important to remember the things that build community.

She focused on the young generation highlighting that they have the power to bring change through writing, poetry, filmmaking, photography, reading, among other tools.

“What is important is looking at indicators on how to prevent negativity and chasing away people who try to destroy peace. Peace has to be maintained in all ways possible,” she said.

“Focus on what unites you, know how best to handle the past and realise the future but don’t judge people. Look for people who have confidence in you, to create a positive future,” she added.

Lakin noted that when promoting peace one can even use a number of other platforms, including social media, to preach about ways to stop wars and why peace building is important to a country.

Major (retired) Peter Sosi, from Ghana, said that peace is a process not an event and that if not protected it is lost, that’s why it requires a mechanism to get the best out of it.

He said that engaging people in peacekeeping requires use of mouth as a weapon to talk to people in a language they understand. This is the best way to agree on something that benefits the whole country.

“The pain and the sorrows caused cannot be changed; however, let’s not look at the past as a weakness, but as a way to forge the way forward. Leadership is crucial in this situation, criminals ought to face the law so that they pay for the pain caused but, most importantly, reconciliation and forgiveness is the way to heal,” Sosi urged.

Respect, humility and being good stewards is all we need because that is how I was groomed since childhood and it has surely taken me far, he added.