NURC to focus on research, unity among Rwandan youth

Bishop (Rtd) John Rucyahana (R) presents the commission’s report to the senate yesterday. Looking on left is NURC executive secretary Fidel Ndayisaba. Nadege Imbabazi

The National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC) will focus its efforts over the next eight months on conducting research about how Rwandans at different levels embrace unity and reconciliation and nurturing unity among the youth.

The plan was revealed on Monday by the commission’s president, Bishop (rtd) John Rucyahana, while presenting to the Senate a report of NURC’s activities for the Financial Year 2017/18 and action plan for the current financial year.

Describing the need to continue unity and reconciliation campaigns in the country through different programmes such as Ndi Umunyarwanda, Rucyahana said that though a lot of improvement towards unity of Rwandans was made in the past 24 years, more remains to be done.

The bottom line for the commission’s mission, he said, is to continue fighting the ideologies of genocide and discrimination, which were sowed for many years in the country, and replace them with unity among the people.

“Even if the genocide ideology has been decreasing, it’s still there and it’s contagious,” he said.

The commission, whose budget is slightly over Rwf1 billion for the current financial year, will focus its activities on research to ensure that it has a sense of how Rwandans currently understand unity and reconciliation and nurturing the youth to be better citizens.

“Without up-to-date research you always remain with gaps,” the commission’s president said.

He explained that during the research, young Rwandans from children aged five up to the youth aged 30 years will be asked to express themselves on the topic of unity and reconciliation.

Then the youth will especially be targeted for campaigns to promote unity and reconciliation among Rwandans.

“We have to prepare them (the youth) for a better future and they need to be clear on what they have to inherit their children,” Rucyahana said in an interview shortly after addressing the Senate.

The commission is also embarking on a project to build a unity and reconciliation monument, which will have a gallery where people can learn about the topic and a garden where people can go and reflect on the process of unity and reconciliation of Rwandans.

Of the commission’s budget of slightly over Rwf1 billion, half of it will directly be used to fund activities to promote unity and reconciliation while administration and support  services at the commission will cost the rest of the money (slightly over Rwf 500 million).

Most senators approved of the commission’s plan and encouraged it to broaden its programmes and use it to address other ills of society such as drug abuse and corruption.

Senator Gallican Niyongana urged the commission leaders to coordinate better with other institutions in order to work together on shared objectives to nurture unity and reconciliation.

“How does the commission work with other government institutions?” he asked, wondering whether the commission has terms of reference for its collaboration with different institutions.

Senator Charles Uyisenga also suggested that the commission shouldn’t only focus on the history of genocide but also start tackling emerging problems in society that threaten the unity of Rwandans.

“NURC should care more about problems of injustice, favouritism, and other serious problems which can be a good recipe for problems in the future,” he noted.

NURC is mandated by the Constitution to prepare and coordinate and promote national unity and reconciliation efforts.