As part of the activities to mark the 23rd anniversary of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, over 60 representatives of youth organisations in the country Thursday gathered in Kigali to discuss how best to fight genocide ideology.
The Executive Secretary of the National Youth Council (NYC), Robert Mwesigwa, told journalists that the workshop sought to discuss youth participation in rebuilding the country.
“The youth are the foundation of any country so it is important that they are involved in everything. Most of these here are already decision-makers and it’s important that they play a significant role in changing the legacy of this country,” he said.
Mwesigwa pointed out that the youth have more to lose than gain from harbouring genocide ideology.
“Having the mentality of genocide ideology at this time when the country is rapidly advancing would be a loss to any youth. This ideology is source of many problems, ranging from social relations to poverty. There are many opportunities in this country and I am glad that the youth are getting a better understanding of why this ideology only keeps them behind,” he said.
The coordinator of Girls Leaders Forum- Rwanda, Hortense Cindy Niwemfura, pointed out the importance of working together during this mourning period and beyond.
“Our role during this period is to be supportive of Genocide survivors in all ways possible. I have heard that Genocide apologists are infiltrating the youth and spreading genocide ideology. Our duty is to come together and do everything possible to fight this mentality. Our contribution is to go and educate the youth to all levels, from the grassroots, to sectors to nearby schools etc,” she said.
She appealed for the reintroduction of civic education in schools, saying that imparting as much information and knowledge about the history of the country from early age will greatly contribute towards changing mindsets.
“Some of these issues are caused by lack of adequate information. Scrapping subjects like civic education in primary schools is a disadvantage because it is those same subjects that can help to teach these children, for them to understand their history when they are still young,” she said.
The president of Imboni Zarwo youth association, based at University of Rwanda’s College of Business and Economics (CBE), Jean Pierre Kwizera, said that following previous reports of genocide ideology in schools, his association was mainly focusing on peace building targeting both university and secondary school students.
He said that many activities had been covered but priority among them was what activities they would take on during the commemoration period.
“We will engage in counseling, changing attitudes through sensitisation programmes. Whether your father is in jail for committing genocide or your mother passed away because of it, we should remember that it is because of our bad history but we strive to make sure that it never happens again,” he said.
The youth representatives will meet again in August.