UNILAK commemorates 30th anniversary of the Genocide against Tutsi across campuses

UNILAK commemorates 30th anniversary of the Genocide against Tutsi across campuses

UNILAK commemorates 30th anniversary of the Genocide against Tutsi across campuses

On May 21st, 2024 the University of Lay Adventists of Kigali (UNILAK) marked the 30th anniversary of the genocide against the Tutsi with solemn events held on both its Kigali and Rwamagana campuses. The Nyanza campus had observed the commemoration on May 16th, setting a somber tone for the subsequent events.

The day began with wreath-laying ceremonies at the genocide memorials of Nyanza and Rwamagana district located in both Kigali and Rwamagana. Students and faculty members gathered to honor the victims, placing wreaths as a sign of respect and remembrance. The memorial sites, where countless victims of the 1994 genocide are laid to rest, served as poignant reminders of the atrocities committed three decades ago.

Following the ceremonies, participants returned to their respective campuses to continue the commemoration. The events commenced with a minute of silence to honor the memory of those who lost their lives. This act of collective mourning was a powerful display of unity and remembrance.

This was followed by a series of speeches delivered by various university officials, government officials and members of survivor organizations who emphasized the importance of remembrance and the ongoing fight against genocide ideology. They spoke of the need for continuous education about the genocide, the importance of unity and reconciliation, and the role of youth in preventing future atrocities.

In Kigali, the Vice Chancellor of UNILAK, Prof. Jean Ngamije, spoke about the importance of educating future generations about the genocide to prevent such atrocities from occurring again. “Our commitment to remembering the past is not only to honor those we lost but also to educate and build a future free from hatred and division,” he stated.

Dr. Emmanuel Hakizimana, the Deputy Vice Chancellor for Academics and Research delivered an impactful talk show, highlighting the crucial role of education in fostering a culture of peace and preventing history from repeating itself. He passionately articulated that educators and students bear a significant responsibility in ensuring that the horrors of the past are neither forgotten nor repeated. “As educators and students, it is our responsibility to ensure that the horrors of the past are not forgotten, and to work towards a future where such atrocities can never happen again,” he stated.

He was echoed by the guest of honor, Honorable Senator Ephrem Kanyarukiga; who urged students to never forget the lessons of our history, and to use their education to break down the barriers that divide them and to build bridges of understanding and cooperation.

“Be vigilant against any form of discrimination or violence, and always stand up for what is right. Together, let us ensure that “Never Again” is not just a slogan, but a reality for all humanity”, he stated.

In Rwamagana, the Campus Coordinator, Dr Javan Semana Vice-Chancellor, emphasized the role of education in fostering peace and reconciliation. He highlighted the university’s efforts to ensure that students understand the historical context and the imperative of unity and reconciliation.

The most moving part of the commemoration came with testimonies from genocide survivors. Their stories of unimaginable suffering and incredible resilience brought many in the audience to tears. These testimonies served as powerful reminders of the human cost of hatred and the strength of the human spirit.

The commemoration at the Nyanza campus on May 16 was similarly marked by a wreath-laying ceremony, moments of silence, and survivor testimonies. The campus held a night vigil, a solemn and reflective gathering that pays homage to the victims and honors the resilience of survivors.

These events across UNILAK’s campuses reaffirmed the institution’s commitment to honoring the victims of the genocide against the Tutsi and educating its students and community about the critical importance of remembrance and reconciliation.

As Rwanda continues to rebuild and heal, the annual commemoration serves as a crucial reminder of the need for vigilance against hatred and the importance of fostering a society grounded in empathy and understanding.