W2R Activities – National University of Rwanda (Power of Image & Training)
In the Southern Province of Rwanda where the National University is located the set of activities that makes up Walk to Remember are being done before the actual day of the Walk.
The twelve Peace and Love Proclaimers on ground at the National University of Rwanda are working hard everyday to see these activities impact on the community neighboring the university, and it is in this context that they hosted last week two major events: April 11th “The power of Image” a screening and discussion session and a “Training program” for the organizers.
A crowd of 2000 students was in the campus auditorium at 8:00pm where various activities are usually scheduled during the week of commemoration. On the agenda before the screening we had musical performances by evangelical ministries from campus and skits, faculties’ speeches, then the Power of Image. After a short introduction on PLP identity by Richard, the guest speaker, Bishop Nathan GASATURA head of Anglican Church in the Southern Diocese were given the floor at 11:00. He related the theme of the year “Learning from our history to build our future” with Christian faith, and he concluded saying “He who have the Father have everything”, reminding the audience that even the power of true forgiveness that brings healing and reconciliation: the bright future we aim for, come from God.
After the sermon, the audience moved to the Memorial site where they were shown the chosen movie “ISETA”, a documentary film illustrating one of the most famous images (shown on TV) captured during 1994 Genocide perpetrated against Tutsis by a cameraman named Nick Hughes. In this film Nick goes back on the ground to meet the survivors of the place where the images were taken with the attempt to identify survivors, victims and perpetrators on the coverage.
Brief discussions followed the end of the film led by Frank, another PLP member. This film raised questions and it was obvious to see that people had comments and questions; unfortunately we didn’t have much time for that, it was already 1:00am by then. Few people were given the opportunity to comment and this I kept for your info: “It is obvious from this film that Genocide survivors are still struggling for a better living when you see the kind of houses they live in; I frequently here these days people complaining about the fact that we still talk about orphans of genocide after 18 years. Instead of judging by counting the number years, we should actually react to make sure those people have a decent and better life in the future, and only then we can say that we did many things for them but they don’t evolve. ” Another student said: “This is the kind of truth none can deny after watching this. These films are very important because they not only take us back in history but they tell us truths that will lead us to a fair justice.” For the team, this was mission accomplished though they would have loved to have more time.
«… These films are very important because they not only take us back in history but they tell us truths that will lead us to a fair justice.” - A participant (Power of image)
On April 14th, it was the team’s turn to learn in order for them to deliver facts they know and understand. The training program took place at the Rwandan National Museum (“Ethnographic Museum”) from 9:00Am to 1:00Pm.
Right after their arrival, they took a tour around the museum discovering Rwandan history and ancient cultures, following the tour they discussed the discoveries they made during the tour.
Frank took the team through the core origins of the social classes in Rwanda (Hutu, Tutsi, and Twa) and how they came to separate people and end up with a genocidal act.
Richard exposed the stages that could lead to a potential genocide basing on the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi; the aim of this was to show how genocide starts in the smallest things like social classification to grow to an extreme hatred that aims at exterminating a group. PLP members equipped with this information would know how to recognize the threats of a potential genocide in any society but will also know how they can stop or denounce it.
The trainees were reminded the origins of Peace and Love Proclaimers, its vision and mission and were given a clearer view of what Walk to Remember was all about. “I joined PLP only sometimes back, and I’m glad to have gone through this training because I understood better the vision of PLP and this can only empower me to do more than I’m currently doing. We learned a lot to inspire us as well.” – Gerard a member of PLP.
This team has a wider vision that will not stop with Walk to Remember: they are targeting secondary schools around the National University of Rwanda. In these schools the time is planning to initiate Peace and Love Proclaimers clubs in order to challenge students’ way of thinking.