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‘Our Past’: Helping youth understand history, guarantee peaceful future | ENTERTAINMENT | Mamos Media LTD

‘Our Past’: Helping youth understand history, guarantee peaceful future

Mamos Media

By Jeannette Kawera

Some of the young performers during the play depicting the history of Rwanda, before and during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. / Photos by Olivier Mugwiza

AN ANNUAL event held for the youth to learn more about Rwanda’s history resumed at the Kigali Genocide Memorial. It was previously paused in 2020 and 2021 as one of the measures to curb the spread of Covid-19. 

In an interview with The New Times, Christian Intwari, the founder of ‘Our Past’, the youth-led initiative that organises the event and aims to educate young people about the Genocide and inspire them to take the initiative to rebuild the country through arts and workshops, said that in the 11 years of their operation, they have managed to reach so many young people to teach them more about the country’s history.

Intwari expressed gratitude towards the sponsors of the initiative and revealed that they are planning to do more ‘Our Past’ events upcountry and abroad as well, starting with Germany.

The event held at Kigali Genocide Memorial in Gisozi was well attended.

Sharon Kirezi Bayingana, a member of the communication team, told this publication that they are happy about the positive feedback they receive, not only from young people, but older citizens who understand the concept of the initiative. 

A time to remember and learn

On April 9, many young people gathered at the Kigali Genocide Memorial located in Gisozi for the event. Bruce Intwali Murangira, the host, in his speech, said, “Our Past is the right platform for the youth to learn history and know how to build a better future of our country, and fight Genocide ideology.”

Arsene Manzi, also known as Manzi Le Poete, shared his poem dubbed “The Rebirth” in which he said, “Here I am to stand firm and remember. Who do I have to blame? The one who cared less for my well-being? Yes, we were chased out of our country, but our country was not chased out from us.” 

Miss Rwanda 2022, Divine Muheto attended the event.

He emphasised on the light that came after the darkness of the 1994 Genocide against Tusti and said that the younger generation is living proof of the rebirth. The very same statements were shared by Serene Uwase in her poem, narrating, “I am a legacy. A fruit from a dried tree. I have dreams and a vision to write my own legacy as a Kanyarwanda descendant.”

France-based Rwandan artiste, Ruth Nirere, better known as Miss Shanel, couldn’t make it in person but sent a message through her song “Araho” which talks about Genocide survivors’ grief that will always be there. She also mentions various stories of survivors from 1994 to this day.

In the middle of the event, there was a panel discussion. The first session was ‘How do youth understand Kwibuka’. Fiona Kamikazi, a social media enthusiast, and Brenda Kalinda, the founder of Kwibuka Digital, the panellists, shared their views and responses to some questions.

Kamikazi said, “The youth don’t know much since some parents can’t tell them the truth about our history. Our education teaches more international history than local. If that can be changed, and we remember them as we mention their names, Genocide deniers won’t get any room to tell lies since the youth will be well-equipped with true knowledge.”

Kalinda revealed that there is more intergenerational trauma and asked parents to trust their children. “Parents, we know that we might be asking you too much after all you have done. However, we request you to tell us more. We are able to process it all. Tell us who you’ve lost, not only how they were killed, but also how they lived their lives and their dreams so that we keep their legacies. We believe that this may really help in the healing process,” she said.

Both panellists shared that Rwandans need to help people in need of mental health support without stigmatising it. There is need for more understanding, be it for children born to women who were raped in the Genocide, the ones born in refugee camps, and those whose parents were Genocide perpetrators.

After the panel discussion, Brave Ngabo, the programme director at IBUKA (an organisation that focuses on peace-building, preserving the memory of the Genocide and supporting Genocide survivors), and Sissi Dimitrie Mukanyirigira, a published author, were welcomed to share their views. Ngabo explained that all the books and movies will never be enough, but the more the youth visit Genocide memorial sites, the better it will be in terms of learning about our past.

“Seeing young people organising these events and the turn-up is a huge indication that the youth want to know more about our history,” Ngabo said.

Mukanyirigira who wrote ‘Do Not Accept to Die’, a book about the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, shared that the youth deserve to know Rwanda’s history and keep the memory of the people lost alive. “We don’t need to see our youth with the intergenerational trauma from their parents, we want you to be as resilient and strong as they are.”

The youth of “Our Past” delivered a play that told the history of Rwanda, before and during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

The guest of honour, Freddy Mutanguha, Executive Director of Aegis Trust, in his closing remarks said that it has been so hard to learn our past since Rwandan history had been written by foreign people who didn’t even know it at all. They were just guessing.

“Dear youth, learn more, read a lot and find out more about the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. The good part in all this is that the massacre was stopped by RPF Inkotanyi, they were very young people like you all. So, you can also do your best in building the better country we want,” Mutanguha said.

Freddy Mutanguha, AEGIS Trust Executive Coordinator, gives a speech during the event.

Candles were lit to pay tribute to the lives lost during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

Source New Times.

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