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

Changing Under Pressure, IS ‘Potent’ as Ever

US intel officials describe Ramadi's fall as concerning, but say it isn't emblematic of larger effort to degrade IS capabilities More

Nigeria Fuel Shortage Shows Fragility of Africa’s Oil Giant

Although it is the largest oil producer in Africa, country has nearly ran out of fuel it needs to power its generators, cars and airplanes over the past week More

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer 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.
3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Cari
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
May 27, 2015 9:31 PM
Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs