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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Letter to the Editor: Remembering the Rwandan Genocide


letter to the editor graphic

As I wrote the date April 7 on my assignment last week, it hit me: I was doing schoolwork on the 22nd commemoration of the Rwandan genocide against the Tutsi. I knew it was coming up — I had been thinking about it as soon as April started and even before then. It’s not something that you can easily forget to remember, yet when I woke up that day and headed to the math lab, it was definitely not on my mind.

This may seem like whatever, but until Grinnell, not only on the seventh, but also for a couple weeks in April, I would never have been in school, ever. A signifier of spring and rebirth in most places, the rainy month of April is a signifier of Rwanda’s great loss. About a week ago the flame of remembrance was lit, and will be lit for the 100 days during which the genocide period took place, where about a million Rwandans were brutally murdered. It is of great importance that we remember, so we can honor the memory of those who died, as well as comfort those who survived. Remembering is also important in that memory is informed by knowledge, knowledge by truth, and truth is paramount in understanding what happened in Rwanda and ensuring it never happens again.

It is very unfortunate that as we say “Never again” during this period and most of the world chimes in, other parts look away at other injustices that are still going on — mostly parts that have the ability to intervene but more often than not choose not to unless it’s beneficial to them (looking at you U.S., but also to the collective U.N.).

Oh wait, are we forgetting to remember already? Are we slowly building up apology letters for a near future? Are we waiting for the body count to be over a million? Commemoration speeches filled with regrets about not acting fast enough (looking at you Clinton)? Mass graves full of loved ones, unfulfilled dreams and futures? What are we, the international community, telling Burundi as we say “Never again” in Rwanda? Do we mean it’s only relevant in Rwanda? In only places that have experienced that?

The apparent insignificance to people Grinnell was mind-boggling, especially since almost everyone who’s heard that I’m from Rwanda has managed to bring up “Hotel Rwanda” in our conversations, usually in an attempt to portray their knowledge on global happenings. One person even asked if we still “dwell” on the genocide in a seemingly innocent way. Well, they must have forgotten, right? Otherwise, why would they not bring it up in conversation, why would they not be alarmed that not far away from Rwanda, Burundi is going through an ugly time of greed, insecurity, unaccountability, displacement and an unreasonable loss of life? Yes, I understand there is a lot of unrest going on in the world, I understand that being an informed and conscious person is very hard and depressing, but I also know that being apathetic towards suffering and loss only begets more. It creates an environment where leaders who are not accountable to and for their people stay in positions of power that keeps the cycle of oppression going.

Please join me in remembering the Rwandan Genocide against the Tutsi, and hopefully in doing so, “Never again” may become a reality for all.

P.S.: ACSU Week is next week, and we will be screening a movie on the Rwandan Genocide on Friday.

Jackie Mukinisha ’16

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