Walk to Remember: Expansion and Impact
I remember the first Walk to Remember as if it was yesterday. We hosted the walk in 2009, and if I was to foresee its future at that time, I wouldn’t have said it would be as I am witnessing it now. After three delays and many struggles to receive permission to walk, it finally happened the 16th of May. Over 1,200 high school students participated. I was not as optimistic as some of my fellow organizers within Peace and Love Proclaimers (PLP) but I was quite motivated to embrace the vision and work for its fulfillment.
As we moved on, our favorite words became: change, hope, impact, never again, brighter future, unity, can do people, leaders of tomorrow, forgiveness, etc. All of those were just uttered words, but now, today, after three years I can feel a change. I feel that the journey we started three years ago has taken us to another level. The impact we wanted is showing up slowly and a big youthmovement is uniting efforts to make our dream of a generation that says” no” to genocide ideology come true. From Rwanda to the East African Community, to Asia, Europe and America: Walk to Remember is stepping for yet another expansion every year. Millions of people have at least heard about this walk and its purpose, we count between 15,000 & 25,000 participants walking every year from its expansion in 2010. 2012 will be yet another year of expansion especially within the country since the light is taken south to the National University of Rwanda.
National University of Rwanda (NUR) is Rwanda’s state university. It opened on 3rd November 1963 as the first Rwandan institution of higher learning, with a mission to provide higher education, conduct research, and offer services to the community. It is located in the Southern Province, 150 km south of the capital city of Kigali.
Currently, NUR is a large university offering 39 undergraduate programs and 24 postgraduate programs. It is the largest University in Rwanda, with more than 12,000 students representing 1/3 of total student population in public higher learning institutions in Rwanda and nearly 1/5 of the total higher education students in Rwanda.
During 1994 Genocide perpetrated against Tutsi, the University community lost a good number of its staff and many students were killed. They were victims of genocide ideology or ethnic identity. The University suffered a great loss: laboratory equipment, the computer equipment and academic infrastructure were destroyed or taken away. Those who were not killed had to hide themselves, and others fled into exile.
NUR played a role of catalyst in genocide perpetrated against the Tutsi, where some of the iconic and influential faculty members, lecturers and students were directly involved in the mass killings and propagandas, besides that, top leaders of the country at that time showed up to sensitize the extermination of Tutsis: President Sindikubwabo, and Prime Minister Kambanda.
Walk to Remember is moving at NUR to ensure that it now becomes the catalyst in fighting genocide ideology and shaping a new generation of leaders ready to take this nation towards a brighter vision of sustainable development, unity and peace.
The National University of Rwanda hosted the opening ceremony of the 18th commemoration of the 1994 genocide perpetrated against Tutsis at Huye district level for the first time. During the mourning week at NUR, many activities took place, including presentations under topics, such as,the history of the genocide against the Tutsi, preventing the genocide ideology, fostering unity and reconciliation, the development of Rwanda after 1994, etc.
Walk to Remember – NUR is scheduled on April 21st after a burial ceremony in the morning of bodies found earlier and 15 more bodies found within campus at the end of last year. Peace and Love Proclaimers, the NUR team in partnership with AERG-NUR (the Association of Students Survivors of the 1994 Genocide perpetrated against Tutsis) will be conducting Walk to Remember at 3:00pm from Campus – Hotel Faucon (Huye down town) – Campus where various ceremonies will be conducted, such as, candle lighting and reading of 100 Names.
Before Walk to Remember, on the 11th of April, the same team will host the power of image: a short discussion session based on an audio-visual illustration followed by a debate on a specific topic to come up with resolutions and solutions to identified problems.
The Peace and Love Proclaimers are determined make this a global event and it looks like they are lucky dreamers since their dream is coming true.
Richard Rusa, Director of Unity and Reconciliation Department (PLP)