Rwandan authors have emphasized the importance of documenting events of what happened during the 1994 genocide against Tutsi, with emphasis on educating future generations.
The State Minister in the Ministry of Youth and Culture, Edouard Bamporiki said that with the current good governance, Rwandans need to document all testimonies that will preserve the full picture of the history of the genocide for the benefit of generations to come.
Bamporiki made the remarks during a live TV broadcast on “History of the Genocide against Tutsi- Efforts to Preserve it”, which was part of the official commencement of the 26th commemoration of the genocide against Tutsi this April 7, 2020.
Bamporiki, who is also an author, actor, and poet, said that there are testimonies and books about the Genocide, but wondered if it will not be difficult for the latest and next generations to understand what happened.
In his book, ‘Mitingi Jenosideri’ Bamporiki said that he intended to gather the involvement of people from all walks of life in the Genocide which obliged him to gather testimonies from more than 70 people each susceptible to make a standalone book.
“We should document how genocide was committed using information from perpetrators while they are still alive because they have a lot to inform us so as to prevent genocide from happening again,” Bamporiki said.
“I got enriching experience while writing the book. I met pastors who had never drunk before, were trustworthy managers of the public funds, but when it came to the Genocide, they grabbed machettes,” Bamporiki said reminding the complexity of the Genocide in Rwanda compared to others that happened way earlier in other countries.
He added that the earlier this information is documented the better for the country, because it would reduce the cost of retrieving these testimonies once the perpetrators are dead.
“Even if their testimonies have bad things which happened, this can leave us with a lesson to know the full history, not only that of the survivors but also the perpetrators,” Bamporiki said.
Bamporiki witnessed the genocide at the age of ten under bad governance, but as a student, he said he was lucky to be groomed in a good governance, which shaped his career and positive thinking despite his community involvement in the Genocide.
“I was lucky because the forces blocking me from speaking about what happened during the Genocide against Tutsi were weaker compared to efforts indicating that I have to speak the truth,”
According Dr. Jean Damascene Bizimana, the Executive Secretary of the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG), preserving history of genocide and truth is very important and it has to be done especially for the benefit of young generation which keeps asking many questions.
Bizimana said that the young Rwandans don’t understand why Genocide happened and they keep asking the commission to explain why and how people who lived together could kill each other.
He stated that there is need to collect testimonies and researchers should play a big role in making this happen to support the commission’s mandate.
“First we are focusing on collecting as many testimonies as possible so that when researchers and filmmakers want them they have where to start from, but the audio books are also possible in future,” Bizimana said.
Also in the talk show, Freddy Mutanguha, the Executive Director of AEGIS Trust, an international organization that works to prevent genocide said that they have collected many testimonies including of survivors and perpetrators.
“We have at least 16 films that have been produced based on the testimonies and these have also acted as a source of information for justice when it comes to investigations of some cases, like a team from Holland has used some of these testimonies to conduct ground investigations,” Mutanguha said.
Besides Mutanguha, in the talk show the two guests in the studio (Bamporiki and Bizimana) were also joined through skype by Ezechiel Rwabuhihi, a member of Unity Club and Marie Josée Gicali, a youth representative from Canada.
They together documented events during the Genocide with Bizimana mainly focusing on the role of the then governments under first and second republics in preparation and execution of the Genocide.
He gave an examples of Prefets of Gikongoro and Kibungo Prefecture who used to give instructions that meant to segragate the Tutsi, first labelling them as wicked citizens among the 10 stages of the Genocide.
Using the example of Jean Kambanda, Prime Minister of Abatabazi Government which executed the Genocide and who pleaded guilty of 11 accounts, Bizimana said the genocide was prepared way earlier and all the governments from Gitera, Kayibanda era to Habyarimana and Theodore Sindikubwabo, are liable.
Gicali and Rwabuhihi were living testimonies who explained the hardship they went through before and during the Genocide, exactly confirming what was being said in the studios.