11 February 2019

Rwanda: Local Debate Platform Seeks to Raise Global Awareness on Genocide

iDebate Rwanda, a platform that seeks to build the skills of young Rwandans in public speaking will this year be involved in raising global awareness on the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi.

Established in 2012 by university students, its members plan to conduct a European tour to the United Kingdom, France and Belgium to raise awareness on the genocide as well as the progress the country has made over the last 25 years.

The tour coincides with the 25th anniversary of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi where countrywide commemoration activities will largely target the youth.

The President of the organisation, Christine Teta, said that beyond enhancing the ability of the in debates and public speaking, the organisation has a duty to teach the world about the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi.

"This organisation does not only promote debates in Kigali but also carries the responsibility of teaching the rest of the world about the tragic memories of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. As a result we have different programmes in this organisation namely; the Kigali debates, East African Community (EAC) debates and the US tour," she said.

According to Jean-Michel Habineza, the International Coordinator for iDebate Rwanda, in the recent past, the group has been involved in various global campaigns, among them, the United States tour, which started in 2014.

For Mekha Rousseau, a member of the iDebate who scooped the 2018 Rollins debating trophy in the US, the American Tour provides a study platform for the students as it encourages them, to research about the genocide and teach the rest of the world.

Some of the debates have been lined up during this year's European tour themed around topics on Gacaca and Ndi Umunyarwanda among others.

"We started with 18 schools in the US and during last year's tour we went to 27 universities and visited almost 63 universities in 20 different states. We appreciate that the US universities fund our presentations but we need funds to be able to travel to different regions apart beyond the US" added Habineza.

Meanwhile, in memory of one of the organisation's founding members, Samuel Baker who passed on in December 2018 in France, iDebate inaugurated two programme in his honour-- Samuel Baker Leadership Award and Samuel Baker Scholarship Fund.

The leadership programme will be awarded to the best debater in Kigali debate league while the scholarship fund is aimed at supporting at least 50 poor but talented young students every year.

Yvette Muteteri, a parent to one of the students who participated in last year's US tour said that the platform has served as an ideal training forum for young people.

"I appreciate the organisation of iDebate Rwanda because of the different training in the holiday camps they give to our children, my daughter has been so instrumental in domestic problem solving tasks due to the competitions that exposes them to critical thinking" she said.

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