Editorial: Keeping the Genocide memories and avoiding PTSD is a delicate balance

The 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi has its own unique traumatic stories. This week was a time to remember families that were completely wiped out then, without leaving anyone behind.

Latest figures point to over 15,000 that will never have any descendants. That is how efficient the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi was and it is enough to cause trauma even among the people who never witnessed it.


Trauma is a very strange creature and very unpredictable. In the US, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is usually associated with soldiers who served in Afghanistan, Iraq and even as far back as the Vietnam War, 50 years ago.


Trauma has been a regular companion of many Rwandans for generations, from the time of the first Genocide against the Tutsi in 1959. The only difference between then and now was that not much clinical studies had been carried out.


But today, one can begin to understand the strange behaviours of those who survived 1959 and subsequent other Genocides that followed; they were simply classified as mad.

Now we are dealing with a completely new feature of PTSD among young people aged between 24 and 35; they were either not yet born or too young to understand what was happening.

A study conducted last year by Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC) estimates that the prevalence of trauma among them stands at 18.5 per cent.

Trans-Generational Trauma is now the biggest challenge, young people who listen to survivors’ testimonies or hear about families that were completely wiped from the face of this earth.

The stories will never stop being told even though they are likely to cause collateral damage, but it is the only way of keeping the memories of those who perished alive.


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