“We cannot turn the clock back nor can we undo the harm caused. But we have the power to determine the future and to ensure that what happened never happens again” – President Paul Kagame
These words ring true, particularly to us the young generation. These words call upon the youth to inspire positive change amongst us through a range of activities that promote unity, peace, and development.
The statement demands that we, especially those born after the 1994 Genocide perpetrated against the Tutsi, educate each other and ourselves about our country’s past, its shortcomings, and how to chart a different path. This can be achieved by inculcating positive values that insist on a division-free society. It should be obvious to every youth that what unites us is far greater than what divides us and that the values of the former should be promoted as the vices of the latter are expunged from the minds of the young people.
We Walk To Remember and hold a night vigil in order to show solidarity with survivors and to build a culture of memory as well as a tradition that places value on human life. We cannot build values that unite us without preserving the memory of what has divided us in the past. The memory constitutes a warning sign of a direction that should be avoided at all costs.
Walk to Remember brings together Rwandans and other people of goodwill from all over the world to take a stand against Genocide, to hold perpetrators accountable, and to denounce deniers wherever they may be.
Walk to Remember and the Night Virgil are an opportunity for the young generation to learn from the older generation about what they did wrong and how they could have avoided it so that we don’t repeat their mistakes.
There’s a lot more work to be done because more young people need to get the facts about the genocide straight. This project is important in order to help the younger generation escape the confusion from genocide perpetrators and deniers who still seek to sow hatred amongst young people and dissuade them from involvement in commemoration events.
For this reason, efforts have been made to bring together young people from survivors’ and perpetrators’ families. A digital platform was created for young people to acquaint themselves with our country’s past and express their thoughts on the causes of – and the tragic events around the Genocide against the Tutsi. This platform gives an opportunity for young Rwandans to reach a deeper and shared understanding of our history. Accordingly, information on this platform aims to instill in the youth the values of commemoration, memory, honouring the departed, and educating ourselves on the past as a means of giving real meaning to “Never Again.”
It is important to challenge young people to step up to their responsibilities and to shun the mindset that genocide commemoration, sharing our (hi)story, and participation in the fight against the genocide ideology are the responsibilities of the older generation. But more needs to be done in many areas. For instance, schools need to engage in this responsibility and to organise visits to memorials as well as have more engagements with the elders in the communities where these schools are located.
These efforts are made inside the country, but it is equally important to ensure that young people in the diaspora are not left behind as we build this culture of preserving memory. Together we are able to build a sense of shared belonging and a common future and for the young people to give back to their country by empowering and educating those who are less informed. We challenge them to understand that by giving back what they know and what they have learned, they prove that they themselves are truly educated. It is through such intentional education and awareness that we learned that the genocide was possible because the government at the time used the strength of the youth for malicious purposes. Today, young people have the opportunity to apply their energies for meaningful purposes.
Where young people were taught to imagine a divided future, today we are able to imagine a united future. Peace and Love Proclaimers (PLP) has for the last 15 years been making its humble contribution to this mission of awakening the potential of the youth of Rwanda to drive positive change in their society. PLP is a home where Rwan- dan youth can learn about their history, express their feelings, and share their opinions about what went wrong in April 1994. It is a platform for soul-searching geared towards preserving the memory for posterity while building a better future together because it is our responsibility to the generations that will come after us.
And so, Together We Walk!