Event commemorates 1994 Rwandan genocide
Charlie Ducey | Thursday, April 24, 2014
In commemoration of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, the Rwandan American Community of the Midwest will honor the lives of victims and reflect on the causes of ethnic violence on Saturday in McKenna Hall from 2:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Alice Cyusa, a Notre Dame budgets and grants coordinator and a member of the local Rwandan community, said the Kellogg Institute for International Studies partnered with the Rwandan American Community of the Midwest to sponsor the event, which will feature speakers discussing topics from genocide prevention to forced immigration.
“Fr. Bob Dowd of the Kellogg Institute helped us secure the venue for the event, which is mainly funded by the local Rwandan community,” Cyusa said.
Immaculee Mukantaganira, the treasurer for the community organization, said the event will commemorate 20 years of recovery following the 1994 genocide, which claimed the lives of some one million Tutsi Rwandans.
“This 20th commemoration is special,” Mukantaganira said. “In Rwanda, a flame of remembrance has traveled Rwanda since January of this year. It communicates a message of hope, telling Rwandans that the flame will never die. This year, we tried to educate the public about the genocide, its causes and its consequences.”
According to Nxulalo Louis Ruhaya, who also helped organize the event, education and spreading awareness about the Rwandan Genocide carries great importance for preventing future atrocities.
“The 20th anniversary commemoration gives us an opportunity to share our stories with the American people and bring awareness to the kind of atrocities that took place in our country so that together we can make sure it never happens again anywhere in our lifetime,” he said.
Mukantaganira said the commemoration will build around a three-part theme that works toward renewal in the Rwandan community.
“The theme of the commemoration is Remember, Unite, Renew. We remember our beloved we lost during the genocide against the Tutsi, we remember how they shaped our lives, how they blessed us with their love,” she said.
Mukantagnira said the phrase “kwibuka20,” meaning, “remember 20” in the Rwandan language, embodies this spirit of remembrance and has the potential to unite Rwandans regardless of perceived ethnic divisions.
“We are all Rwandans who speak the same language and bounded by the same culture,” Mukantagnira said. “As we stand together, we renew together, committing to continue building a new Rwanda where there are no divisions and where a lasting peace is the purpose of surviving.”
Rwandan-Americans from Ohio and Illinois are expected to attend the event, Mukantagnira said.
Ruhaya said he hopes Notre Dame students also join in the commemoration.
“I hope we can have many of our Notre Dame students attend, as they are the future leaders of tomorrow,” Ruhaya said.