UR and Swedish researchers visit reconciliation village-Honor Genocide victims

Over 50 researchers from universities in Sweden and the University of Rwanda visited a unity and reconciliation village in the Mayange sector of Bugesera District on April 22, 2024. The village is where survivors and perpetrators of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, who have reconciled, reside.

Visitors group photo with residents in unity and reconciliation village.JPG

The researchers are participating in the 2024 Annual Dialogue Meeting until April 24. The event commenced on Monday, April 22 with a trip to the Nyamata Genocide Memorial, where over 10,000 Tutsi lost their lives during the Genocide.

During the visit, visitors paid tribute to Genocide victims by laying a wreath in their honour. They witnessed powerful testimonies of unity and reconciliation by Genocide survivors and perpetrators living in harmony in the same village.

The unity and reconciliation initiative leaders in Rwanda also recognised the crucial support of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), mainly in the fields of mental health and psychology.

Prof Etienne Ruvebana, Senior Research Coordinator for UR-Sweden Programme, said the researchers visited the reconciliation to get facts about what happened, and what researchers can write about Rwanda.

Prof Etienne Ruvebana, Senior Research Coordinator.JPG

“There are people who are still trivialising the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. Now if researchers witness face-to-face the history of the Genocide, it helps fight genocide denial. Some write facts about history and if any of the researchers is inspired, they can do a lot in telling the truth. Among these researchers, some work on peace-building and conflict resolution, mental health, and social cohesion among others,” he said, adding that the reconciliation journey should be a lesson to the world.

Prof Helene Ahlberg, a researcher from Sweden, said that visiting the Genocide memorial, meeting people, and listening to testimonies about the Genocide against the Tutsi is a big takeaway.

Researchers paid tribute to Genocide victims by laying a wreath in their honour.JPG

“Listening to the people is very important because then there is a connection and you can see and hear the person. It is not just seeing something online. I need to understand the context of the people with whom I am working. I have to understand the reality of the life experience, understand the unique history of the country, and what people have lived through here, which makes Rwanda different from other places,” she said.

She said the reconciliation journey needs to be shared internationally.

“There is an incredibly important experience here. People who are witnessing should be there on the international stage and share their witnesses. I just want to highlight one thing that I personally take away, the importance of the healing initiative, socio-therapy. They have really shown the kind of aspects of healing as a person and as a community that other people also need to learn from,” she added.

Dr Barni Nor, Senior Research Advisor at the Swedish Embassy in Rwanda.JPG

Dr Barni Nor, the Senior Research Advisor at the Swedish Embassy in Rwanda, added: “I learnt what determination looks like. And I am grateful for those lessons. I learnt what transformation is. And this is a lesson that you cannot learn by studying books. This programme that we are all part of today is looking at the next generation, it is looking at how to contribute and be part of this journey with Rwanda in its self-transformation.”