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

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country 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.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid