Kwibuka20: Commemoration of the Genocide Against the Tutsi in Rwanda

June 2, 2014

Article from the June 2014 Edition of Global Mental Health Newsletter

A very moving and inspiring Kwibuka20 Commemoration of the Genocide Against the Tutsi in Rwanda was hosted by Palo Alto University and Stanford University's Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences on behalf of The Rwandan Community of California. {C}

The Rwandan Community of California is a member of the Global Diaspora Network.

Kwibuka20 was a 3-day event that began with the movie, 'Sweet Dreams,' about Ingoma Nshya and their business venture, Inzozi Nziza, the first ice cream shop in Rwanda. Filmmakers Rob and Lisa Fruchtman spent 18 months following Rwanda's first female drumming troupe as these extraordinary women showed that the power of music and drumming can lead to a path of reconciliation, empowerment, and entrepreneurship. With the help of Brooklyn's Blue Marble Ice Cream the women found a path to business ownership. 'Sweet Dreams' will be screened throughout the US and Rwanda later in the year. The film screening was followed by a daylong workshop on Healing Historical Harms led by David Anderson Hooker, Ph.D. of Eastern Mennonite University (EMU). Dr. Hooker has brought the EMU peacebuilding methodology to many countries of Africa and other countries of the world. Event attendees included survivors, psychologists, and writers in discussing how trauma can lead to ongoing cycles of violence, impediments to reconciliation, and what means there are of respectfully recognizing differing viewpoints. Ph.D. Candidate and lecturer AKR visiting from Rwanda and INATEK (Institute for Agriculture, Technology Education in Kibungo) contributed his commentary in the Peacebuilding workshop, met the Gronowski Clinic Directors and participated in supervision with Dr. Froming. Carl Wilkens followed with his story later in the evening.

Finally, the capstone event, the Kwibuka20 Commemoration on the Stanford University Campus, took place with people coming from Rwanda, including, Dr. Jean Pierre Dusingizemungu - President of Ibuka, Yves Kamuronsi - Associate Director of the Kigali

Genocide Memorial and Documentation Center, Miss Rwanda 2012 and FESPAM - Aurore Umutesi, Toty Kayumba and Grace Kamuronsi. Powerful and inspiring testimonials of survivors Frida Umuhoza and Consolee Nishimwe helped members of the audience grasp the enormity of suffering caused by the Genocide Against the Tutsi in Rwanda. Young people provided poetry, song, and a candlelight procession of memory and hope. Dr. Eugene Nshimyimana gave a most interesting and thought-provoking talk on the specificity of language and discourse in describing and memorializing the Genocide Against the Tutsi so as not to confuse the public and future historical documentation about who was targeted in the genocide. Dr. Derick Burleson, an evacuated member of the last Peace Corps group before the genocide, provided additional poetry. Finally, the Rwandan Ambassador to the United States, Mathilde Mukantabana spoke of Vision 2020 and the markers of hopeful future for Rwanda.

Photo Caption (from the top):

  1. Bill Froming, Provost, and Rwanda Ambassador Mathilde Mukantabana, May 2014 
  2. Attendees of the workshop on Healing Historical Harms led by David Anderson Hooker, Ph.D,, May 2014
  3. David Anderson Hooker, Jean-Pierre Dusingizemungu, Yotam Heineberg, Byron Bland