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Rwandan Scholars Reflect on Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month

Rwandan Scholars Reflect on Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month

April is Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month and marks the 22nd anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. In honor of these two important events, several SHE-CAN scholars from Rwanda came together to share their thoughts and perspectives on the topic in a collaborative blog. We invite you to read their words and to reflect on how you too can honor those affected by this senseless violence and work to prevent genocide ideology in the future.​ 

I am Mad Enough to Strive for a Better Future: a better world for my children & yours
By Assumpta Ishimwe 


GIt seems like the pain is still the same. We still cry for the loved ones we lost in the 1994 genocide against Tutsis, for the death you didn’t deserve, for the cost of silence when things were falling apart, for the empty space you left in our hearts, for the presence of you, ‘family’, that was taken away from us who were born after Genocide. I don’t know how you looked like dear aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins and when April knocks on my door, I imagine all the beautiful memories with you I missed.

Remembering is not a way to enforce hatred, it is not a way for us to get stuck in the past, in grief. Instead, it is a way to honor innocent humans killed for how they were born, it is a way of telling our children the atrocity that happened. It is a way for us to connect to lives we missed; siblings, children, aunts, uncles, grandparents, dearest parents. Some of us didn’t live to see you, some of us were too young to hold on to a single memory we had built, some of us wish to have you back in our arms to say a more dignified goodbye, some of us will forever hold on the memories we had and rise on them.

I believe that the very best way of preventing Genocide is not only teaching the youth that the killing was the only problem in the 1994 Genocide, but also to teach them the impact of the very small hatred that grew for years into the 1994 Genocide. It is very important to teach through remembering, through telling truth because that is what moves people ahead. The truth is that I am mad that I couldn’t see my family, I am mad that Rwandans lost more than a million people from its population. But I am mad enough to strive for a better future, a better world for my children, and yours. This can’t be done by hiding the truth instead telling the story from the very beginning, teaching children that everything big comes from the small things.

It started as a small hatred but ended in a massacre between brothers, neighbors, family. The most successful way to fight something is to attack its roots. Let’s focus on what unite us to overcome the little hatred that grows in us. Rwanda gives the world a story, a story to learn from and be better, a story that teaches youth about the consequences of ignorance and bad leadership, a story with a promise to rise against our own shadow, the story that gives hope.

Preventing Genocide from a Youth Perspective
By Ines Simbi


The month of April is a very difficult month for Rwandans where they commemorate the loved ones they lost during the 1994 Genocide. This year’s commemoration theme is “Let Us Commemorate the Genocide Against Tutsi by Fighting Genocide Ideology”. The theme speaks to all Rwandans, but more specifically to the youth because they will be the ones leading the country tomorrow.

As a youth, I believe that the best way to prevent any future genocide is to learn from the history of countries like Rwanda, Germany, Cambodia, Bosnia, and Armenia. Ideology happens when people choose to focus on each other’s differences rather than what unifies them. Discrimination leads to conflicts and conflicts can lead to a genocide. I believe that if people start loving one another regardless of their religion, race, gender, culture, and anything that makes them different then there won’t be anything like a genocide, which will be the best way to prevent it.

I recently watched a TedTalk by Smith Clinton where he talks about the danger of silence. If there are conflicts among a certain groups, the world shouldn’t stay silent about it or ignore it. They should immediately act to stop them before it’s too late. I would also encourage my fellow Rwandan youth to spread love, unity, and peace. 

Genocide Isn’t the Whole Story: Moving Past the Single Narrative
By Maureen Kalimba 


When most people want to visit Rwanda, their first interest is learning more about the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi since it is the definition of our country to most outsiders. Surprisingly, Rwanda does not look like “Genocide” as many people assume.  Rwanda has good leadership based on her population and a highly decentralized administration. She is extremely clean, has awesome development activities and a high rate of tourism. However, this would not have been achieved if previous efforts weren’t applied.

During 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, mass killings spread all over Rwanda with more than 1,000,000 Tutsis slaughtered in only 100 days. In addition to the brutal mass killings, systematic rape was also widely used as a weapon of war during the Rwandan genocide. As if that was not enough, there was extreme destruction of people’s properties and public infrastructure. Women became widows, children turned into orphans. Rwanda was a dead nation. I bless the day that RPF began to make gains on both the battlefield and in the negotiations led by Tanzania. By early July, the RPF had control of the majority of the country. Fearing reprisal killings, hundreds of thousands of Hutus fled the country and others were imprisoned. On July 4th 1994, Rwanda was liberated. This began the new journey of Rwanda. The journey of unity and reconciliation, the journey of rebuilding our nation, the journey of excellence.

Rwandans are increasingly united. There is a strong patriotism and belief in the government. We can never forget our tragic past but do not want to be defined by it. Today, Rwanda is commemorating for the 22nd time and she is surely a beacon of Hope. More than a million Rwandans have lifted themselves out of poverty. The proportion of children dying before their fifth birthday has dropped by more than half, and when they reach seven years old, they can nearly all go to school. Most of the population is covered by health insurance, and malaria deaths have fallen more than 85% since 2005. Crime is very low. Today, Rwandan’s Government opens a window of opportunity for women’s involvement in decision making. 64% of the parliament is composed of women. It means that hard choices still need to be made. Rwanda has ambitious economic targets. Rwanda aims to become a middle-income nation by 2020, while political and social transformation continues as she enters a new vision of 2050.

Our Past
​By Irene 

As the 100 days of remembrance go on, we continue to remember and mourn all the innocent lives lost during 1994 Genocide.

This last Sunday, I attended an event called “Our Past”. Our Past is an annual event organized by Sick City Entertainment with the objectives of educating the young Rwandan Generation born after the genocide or who were too young during the genocide about the history of Rwanda, with a mission to make sure that all young Rwandans know and understand what happened in 1994 and that they have the tools to create a better future for Rwanda.

During the event I had the opportunity to be part of a team that was performing a poem written by a friend Natasha Muhoza. The poem is called “Rwanda’s Children” and it portrayed the pain and grief expressed by parents who lost their children during the genocide. It also spreads a message of hope from those parents of how they see their lost children into the eyes of Rwandan youth today. As we were standing each one of us was lighting a candle representing millions of souls lost during the genocide.
Being a post-genocide generation, we hear stories of what happened that time and there is still so much to learn and understand as youth, so that we know and understand the atrocities that took place in 1994 genocide and make sure that it won’t happen again; and taking part in that poem recital gave me the opportunity to spread a message of hope not only to the audience that was present but to all the Rwandans.

As years go by, we remember, renew and unite ourselves as Rwanda

 Kwibuka 22 – Fighting Genocide Ideology
By Peninah Ingabire

April 7th marks the start of the commemoration week of the 1994 Tutsi Genocide in Rwanda and all of over the world. Each year, Rwandans get together to remember and honor the lives we lost in 1994. It is in that context that my fellow SHE-CAN Scholar Ange Sandrine Uwisanze and I organized an event for the the 22nd Commemoration of the Rwandan Genocide at Muhlenberg College. This year, the global theme was: “Fighting Against Genocide Ideology”.

This was a candlelit ceremony, which took place on April 7th. We spent the afternoon tabling in the event space to talk about the Rwandan Genocide and teach our fellow students about what happened. We were also encouraging people to pledge to fight Genocide Ideology. I was immensely touched by the number of people who came to pledge, and support us during the event since not many of the students knew about the Genocide and this was the first time a commemoration took place at Muhlenberg.  
We are a nation with a painful past, and no words can explain what happened in Rwanda. However, we have rose against all odds to be a beacon of unity and reconciliation. To me, remembering represents a way to honor the lives we lost, but also a constant vigil to ensure that such atrocity doesn’t happen again.

 Kwibuka 22 – Fighting Genocide Ideology
 Sandrine Uwisanze

Although the 1994 genocide took place in Rwanda, the whole world should learn an important lesson form that tragedy. With the great rise of globalization, people can easily move from one part of the world to another. Therefore, different communities worldwide are becoming more diverse. To build an inclusive and a peaceful society, people could reflect on the Rwandan genocide and learn how to live with each regardless of their differences. Our racial and ethnical differences should be the stepping blocks to restore peace in different places around the world that are facing wars and conflicts. In addition, our differences could help us gain knowledge from each and to find out our common human values. After the genocide against Tutsi, Rwanda has shown that unit and reconciliation through shared human values are the necessary for development. Rwandan catastrophe should never be forgotten in the world’s history so that the we ensure and say “Never again”, “Never again” in Rwanda or elsewhere.

For the first time at Muhlenberg College, I and Peninah hosted the Rwandan Genocide commemoration event. It was a an opportunity to share  what happened in Rwanda and we used that opportunity to engage the Muhlenberg community to celebrate diversity and to also reflect on how we could all honor our differences in order to install peace on campus and in the world in general. The event also included the candle lighting ceremony which symbolizes hope for a better future” 

Promoting Peace and Justice From a Youth Perspective
By Marie Grace Imanariyo

I was born in 1996 and the Rwandan Genocide against Tutsi occurred in 1994. A lot of my fellow Rwandans lost their lives and some would have grown up with me, would have been my mentors, school mates etc. I always hear older Rwandans say that it was a very tough time for everyone who was alive in 1994. There are of course things that I can do to stop genocide and its ideology though I haven’t really experienced the genocide.

From a youth perspective, I believe that genocide is a very bad act and that it should never happen again because it leads to deaths of innocent people, serious injuries, destruction of properties, hatred, an increase in number of orphans and widows, poverty, etc. We can all contribute in promoting unity, peace, security and reconciliation to have a better world. Every Rwandan citizen should be able to consider him/ herself as a Rwandan because, that’s what we really are. We are all Rwandans. Through all the difficulties that Rwanda has passed through, we still have got to move from killing to succeeding, declining to developing, hatred to reconciliation, loneliness to laughters, destruction to construction, etc. There have been times when Rwanda had no hope that it will ever move from the darkness. But now, Rwanda is on the right track to development and moving forward to a better future. Rwanda is now one of the most loved and safest countries, and that is a thing I should rejoice about.

I will always stand to support peace, fight against Genocide, and its ideology. May our lovely Rwandans who lost their lives rest in eternal peace. We remember to Unite & Renew. Remembering should be done by everyone to think about how to make a better change. I love my President’s quote which says “We cannot turn the clock back nor we can undo the harm caused, but we have the power to determine the future and to ensure that what happened never happens again”. I also believe that everyone around the world has a power to do a good act to impact other people’s lives instead of harming them and to ensure that it’s the right thing done; to promote peace and Justice.