A Rwandan living in the UK, Eric Eugene Murangwa, has been given an MBE award in Queen’s New Year’s Honours for raising awareness and education about the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in UK schools.
The Queen’s New Year’s Honours are traditionally given to individuals who have gone an extra mile to help others or for those who have achieved outstandingly in a particular field.
An MBE is given for an “outstanding achievement or service to the community.
The MBE means Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.
Murangwa is the founder and Executive Managing Officer of Football for Hope Peace and Unity (FHPU Enterprise) and Survivors Tribune.
In 1994 Murangwa and his immediate family survived the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. Their survival is owed, in part, to the courage and humanity shown by his former teammates at Rayon Sports Football Club.
As a result of this, Murangwa developed a strong belief that sport, in particular football, as well as storytelling, have the power to influence society in a way that little else does.
He says his mission is to make sport and storytelling an integral part of the Rwandan reconciliation and reconstruction process, insisting that sport is not just for fun and leisure but can also be used as a tool for social change and life skills.
Commenting on the award, Murangwa said: “I’m thrilled and honoured to be receiving this award but it would not have been possible without all those who have supported me along the way. I’ve had the privilege of working with an amazing network of colleagues, advisors and other supporters. This award is not just for me, it is also for all the survivors who continue to fight for justice, challenge denial and keep the memories of our loved ones alive.”
He explained that he was accepting the honour not only in recognition of his work to raise awareness and promote the education of the Genocide against the Tutsi of Rwanda in UK schools, but also to make sure that ‘Never Again’ doesn’t mean ‘Yet Again.’
He decried the fact that even after the Nazi Holocaust had been exposed and its perpetrators condemned, the international community declared “Never Again” yet tragically, deliberate attempts to exterminate an entire race of people have not been confined to the history books of the early twentieth century.
“Genocide has since occurred from Cambodia in 1975, to Bosnia in 1992, to my country Rwanda in 1994 and Darfur in 2003, it is clear that people did not learn sufficient lessons to prevent recurrence of these terrible tragedies,” he said.
Murangwa argues that the international community has not intervened to prevent genocide nor come forward to give enough support to survivors of genocide.
Whatever the lessons learnt, survivors of the Genocide in Rwanda and many other vulnerable groups around the world cannot feel assured that Never Again really means Never Again, he said.
He said the example of courage and humanity shown by former Rayon Sports teammates who sheltered and protected him during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi was a very powerful lesson and inspiration behind his vision and drive, for everything he does today.
“I want to dedicate this honour received today to these ordinary people who happened to be incredible human beings, acting with courage and humanity that most people inside and outside Rwanda lacked, at a time when people needed it most. They taught me what it means to stand up for what is right.”
In 2015, following FHPU’s success in using sport as a tool for social impact, and in educating young people through its off-field genocide awareness activities, Murangwa and colleagues decided to embark on a fresh challenge to establish a new and sustainable platform designed for storytelling.
They have since been able to assemble more than 20 dynamic speakers who each have incredible life stories to share, and in the last eighteen months alone, they visited 25 schools and reached over 5000 students.
Their flagship programme is called Survivors4Schools and it enables survivors of modern genocides and other global conflicts to share their experiences through public speaking events in schools, colleges, and universities.