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

Anti-Terror Drills Highlight China’s Push Into Central Asia

China, Russia, several central Asian countries wrap up massive anti terrorism military drills in Inner Mongolia More

Erdogan’s First Step: Secure More Power in New Role in Turkey

Erdogan was sworn in as Turkey's first popularly elected president on Thursday; he picked former foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu as PM More

Pakistan Army Fails to Break Political Deadlock

PM Sharif claims he didn't ask army to defuse crisis; military rejects claim 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.
Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assaulti
X
Daniel Schearf
August 29, 2014 9:30 PM
After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.

AppleAndroid