Rwanda is one of the countries with darkest histories globally. Ours is a history littered with chapters that are so difficult to comprehend, let alone reckoning with.
And, it becomes all the more challenging when it comes to the youth.
Yet this is our history. It is our shared past that we cannot simply wish away. We have no choice but to come to terms with and learn from it. We cannot protect the young generation from their history. Yes, they will pose questions. Very difficult questions. To which there will never be easy answers. Reason: it’s a history of cruelty, of leaders savaging those under their care, of neighbours turning on their neighbours and parents against their children or vice versa.
However, there is no shortcut when it comes to letting the younger generations know all about their history. The majority of them were born after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi –the climax of years of leadership excesses and brutality targeted at a section of the people; the Tutsi.
It is the responsibility of us all to ensure that the young generation knows the truth surrounding every episode in our country’s tragic history. This is the only way we can, as a people, guarantee that the next generation will be in position to prevent a recurrence of similar carnage in the future.
The country’s unwavering commitment to ‘never again’ can only be sustained by passing it on to the young generation. They are the custodians of a peaceful, prosperous future that this resilient country deserves.
This should be done on multiple fronts, including teaching the history of Rwanda, especially that of the Genocide against the Tutsi in all schools in the country; having children visit Genocide memorial sites and witness firsthand the effects of hate and genocide ideology; and getting the young generation to actively participate in the ongoing conversation and soul-searching with regard to our history and forging a brighter future as a country.
In the meantime, no effort should be spared in ensuring the young generation is protected from the cancer of genocide ideology and denial that continues to rear its ugly head to date – 23 years after the Genocide against the Tutsi.
And, this is a shared responsibility; from government, civil society and religious leaders to schools, parents and communities.
We owe this to ourselves, to our great country and to the future generations.