This post forms part of the Rwanda Series after attending the Rwanda Education Summit in Musanze from 21st – 26th May 2012. Read further posts in the series here.
On my bucket list for sometime has been the Genocide Museum in Kigali. Today I got the chance to spend a couple of hours reading and reflecting on this tragic event and wander the gardens of the mass graves for the 250,o00 buried here.
The museum followed a circular route around the building, beginning with the history of Rwanda and the division of the country during colonial rule with the introduction of the identity card in 1932. The colonial power identified anyone with ten cows in 1932 as Tutsi and anyone with less than ten cows as Hutu, beginning the division of a nation.
As I continued through the museum learning of the rehearsing of genocide, the building itself was playing tricks on me. At one stage I came back to the place where I thought I had started, only to realise it was continuing. A feeling I am sure was felt by many Rwandans.
“When the genocide was underway, Radio Television Libre des Millie Collines was used to incite hatred, to give instructions and justify the killings. The population were being conditioned to accept and to join the plan to act before it was too late.”
I began to reflect on my role as an educator in something like this. What values can I instill in kids worldwide which will ensure an event like this is kept in our history? Would tolerance alone be enough to stop something like this?
I fought back tears as I entered a room full of family pictures of those whose lives were lost, leaving their families displaced and the future of a nation balancing on a ledge. I deliberately spent time looking at each one and confronting the past.
“Education has become our way forward. The main memorial sites all have education programmes to ensure that coming generations understand the mistakes of their forebears, so that they are given the chance to think about their own values and actions. We need to learn about the past…..we also need to learn about it.” Kigali Genocide Memorial in partnership with Aegis Trust, 2004.
By the time I reached the children’s memorial I could no longer hold back the tears. Dedicated to the memory of many thousands of children whose lives were cut short, it gave details of the life and deaths of 14 children lost to the genocide.Francine Murengezi Inagabire Age:12 Favourite Sport:Swimming Favourite Food:Eggs and chips Favourite Drink:Milk and Fanta tropical Best Friend:Her elder sister Claudette Cause of Death:Hacked by machete
It was certainly a sobering trip to the museum and I left thinking that we can never underestimate the power of education in creating a world of unity, forgiveness and tolerance.
“A tree can only be straightened when it is young.” Traditional.