News / Africa

Documentarians Learn Ways to Best Preserve History of Rwanda's Painful Past

Yves Kamuromsi - only 13 when the Rwandan genocide occurred - now heads the documentation center at the Kigali Genocide Memorial Center in Rwanda, and said sharing the experience with other survivors helps everyone, November 2011.
Yves Kamuromsi - only 13 when the Rwandan genocide occurred - now heads the documentation center at the Kigali Genocide Memorial Center in Rwanda, and said sharing the experience with other survivors helps everyone, November 2011.
Elizabeth Lee

Four staff members from the Kigali Genocide Memorial Center in Rwanda recently traveled to Los Angeles to learn techniques on how to best preserve the oral history of what happened in Rwanda 17 years ago. As many as one million people lost their lives in the Rwandan Tutsi genocide of 1994. Many people did survive the horror, and their stories are waiting to be heard.

Yves Kamuromsi and three of his colleagues traveled thousands of miles from home to the University of Southern California to learn how to best document and preserve a painful past.

"My elder brother and my parents were both killed,” said Kamuromsi.

Kamuromsi was only 13 when the Rwandan genocide occurred. He said the worst part of the experience is the aftermath.

“First of all you ask the questions like, 'why did that happen?' and 'why [did] that [happen] to you and your family?' but at the same time you ask yourself why you're alone. For example, when you start going to school you find [it] difficult because no parents,” he said. 

For Kamuromsi, talking about his experience and sharing it with other survivors helps.

"It’s important because you get to learn the experience of others. At some point you may feel that you're a lucky survivor because you may see that some others have experienced [more] horrible things than you did. So I think sharing stories is a part of the healing process,” said Kamuromsi.

Having survivors speak

Kamuromsi now heads the documentation center at the Kigali Genocide Memorial Center in Rwanda. He has videotaped and interviewed other survivors of the genocide. He said since 2004, his team has collected 200 interviews.

"There are more than 300,000 survivors, but the difficult question is: 'Are they ready to start talking,'” he said.

For many survivors it is still too soon.

“The Rwandan genocide was 17 years ago, but for me it was this morning. It’s still that vivid,” said retired Lieutenant General Romeo Dallaire. He was the force commander of the U.N. peacekeeping force during the Rwandan genocide. He said it is important for survivors tell their stories so the suffering caused by the brutality of their attackers is not lost to the rest of the world.  

“The rest of the world also lost its sense of humanity because it let that slaughter happen. We saw it in the media, we heard about it, it was going on for 100 days and we did nothing,” said Dallaire.

Archiving the stories

The Shoah Foundation Institute at the University of Southern California has been collaborating with the Rwandan team collecting the survivor interviews. Established in 1994 by movie director Steven Spielberg after his movie Shindler’s List, the Shoah Foundation Institute collected 52,000 testimonies of the survivors of the Holocaust.  

Now, the institute is training Kamuromsi and his colleagues to better conduct interviews, and about how to store, preserve and archive the survivors’ stories. The institute also is collecting video testimonies of the survivors of the mass killings in Cambodia and Armenia.

The executive director of the institute, Stephen Smith, said while each case is different, there are commonalities.

"We absolutely need to be able to compare the causes and the consequences of genocide. If we know what happened and we understand the pattern and the similarities, it gives us that early warning, and nobody knows better than the victims what happens in a situation of genocide, so their voices are a warning for our future,” said Smith.

The stories from Rwanda and other countries will be sent to computer servers in California and then distributed to 34 universities and museums around the world, where the voices of the survivors can be heard.

You May Like

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid