A group of 23 PhD students studying Transformational Leadership for Peace and Reconciliation at the West Africa Theological Seminary in Lagos, Nigeria have benefited from the Kigali Genocide Memorial Educational Tour programme.
The memorial recently introduced the country-wide tour programme for teachers and students, giving them the opportunity to visit Rwanda and discover, directly through Rwandans, the nation’s history and the causes and consequences of the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi. The programme also teaches about the country’s post-genocide rebuilding efforts.
Some of the students are from northern Nigeria, where Boko Haram has terrorised their communities. One of the main reasons they were so keen to learn from Rwanda was to help them start peace and reconciliation initiatives back home and find way to stop Boko Haram’s violence ideology.
The tour lasted four days and allowed the students to visit four of the country’s main genocide memorials, including the Kigali Genocide Memorial. They were also given presentations about peace-building and memory preservation initiatives in Rwanda.
Central to the tour were meetings with Rwandan communities who told them about their choices to forgive and live together. The Nigerian students had the opportunity to interact with members of Igiti Cyumuvumu, Ndaje Muvandimwe Twiyunge and Abishyizehamwe associations and had open and frank conversations with survivors, rescuers and perpetrators. Some of these communities have gathered into unity and reconciliation associations together with members of families that killed their loved ones. This gave the students an insight into the complexity of Rwandan society and people’s determination to overcome anything that could divide them.
During their visit to Rwanda’s National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC), they were welcomed by Richard Kananga, NURC’s Regional Coordinator in Kigali. He talked to the students about the different home-grown innovations, strategies and processes that Rwandans have used to pursue peace for the past 22 years. He named Gacaca, Ingando, Umuganda, Abunzi, Itorero as some of the programmes that have played an important role in unifying Rwandans and that have helped to find solutions to the challenges faced after the socio-political and economic disintegration caused by the Genocide.
The students expressed their gratitude to the Aegis Trust and the Kigali Genocide Memorial team for the quality of the educational tour and commended the organisers for all they are doing to teach peace as a way to prevent crimes against humanity.
This was a very good and wholesome experience. I will go back to Nigeria with a message of peace and forgiveness for my community.
– Eric Ighalo
I really enjoyed the tour and have learned a lot. What I have learnt has transformed my entire approach to my ministry and my life. I really look forward to seeing other students come to Rwanda to learn.
– Uchechi Julius Irohad
This is a wonderful experience that will never leave my memory! I will definitely recommend this type of tour to other doctoral students.
– S.A Omoteso, one of the students, after visiting the Igiti Cyumuvumu association
Aegis Trust is doing a great work. The work of Aegis and the staff of Aegis will go long way to endear Rwanda to many people and nations around the world! I promise to recommend this educational tour to all other doctoral students coming after me at the West Africa Theological Seminary.
– Pius Usenu
The program is fantastic and should continue. May God bless the Rwandan government for their efforts so far. All the nations offering theological education in their seminaries and universities should come to Rwanda to witness the reality of forgiveness!
– Gabriel A. Ehi