Rwanda: Kwibuka27 - Ecole Belge Honours Former Students Killed in Genocide

Ecole Belge de Kigali (EBK), an international school, last week paid tribute to its nine students and staff members who were killed during the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, and pledged to provide an education that contributes to a bright future of Rwanda.

Held on Friday, April 30, the commemoration was marked by various activities at the school, including observance of a minute of silence, planting of a tree of remembrance, reading names of the victims, and reciting a poem composed in memory of the victims.

The victims include seven students namely Claudine Murego, Déo Sebulikoko, Jean d'Amour Niyomugabo, Jean Safari Habimana, Liliane Sebulikoko, Malaika Gaju Ndasingwa, Patrick Bitsindinkumi Ndasingwa, and two employees - André Namagabo and Gérard Jyaribu.

Ambassador Benoît Ryelandt plants the tree of remembrance at Ecole Belge de Kigali.

The families of the victims of the Genocide were present at the commemoration and participated in the planting of the tree of remembrance.

The physical event was attended by student representatives from each class while the rest of the students followed it in their respective classrooms as it was streamed to their interactive whiteboards.

The members of the school community also visited the Kigali Genocide Memorial where they laid wreaths to pay tribute to Genocide victims laid to rest there.

Importance of remembrance

Pierre Dulieu, the school director, said that the Genocide against Tutsi was the culmination of a long process of many decades, which, he said, was characterised by the stigmatisation, discrimination, and growing trivialisation of the violence against the targeted group - the Tutsi - and their dehumanisation.

"If all Tutsi had been killed, if no one was there to remember them, the then Genocide project would have [completely] succeeded. The remembrance of each victim means that that plot failed. It [remembrance] does not revive them, but it restores dignity to the Genocide victims," he said.

In remembrance of the victims killed 27 years ago, he said they decided to plant a tree in the middle of the school campus.

"This tree is going to thrive, grow its roots in the ground and rise up... by planting this souvenir (tree) in the middle of our school, we renew our will to continue participating in the history of Rwanda, a new, better and very strong Rwanda," he said.

Olivier Bayingana Mugabonake, Chairman of the Board of Administration at Ecole Belge de Kigali, said that the way to go is to collaborate to build a better Rwanda, free from discrimination of any kind.

"Humans are able to collaborate in good or evil. Today, I urge you to collaborate in the good," he said, urging students to participate in common projects that improve the well-being of the society.

"If collaboration aims at promoting evil, to destroy, discriminate, hate your neighbour, don't engage in it ... it is the collaboration in evil that leads to atrocities such as the Genocide," he said.

Speaking at the event, Rose Baguma, Director-General of Education Policy and Analysis at the Ministry of Education said that remembering is intended to transform history into lessons, indicating that the Genocide against Tutsi was the most dreadful, horrible tragedy the World has ever known.

"We must teach our children that any kind of discrimination whether on racial grounds, gender, religion, tribes or ethnic groups, nationalities and any other ground, can be a root cause of genocide".

"We want to teach the young generation that differences will always be there, but we should be united in that diversity."

Amb. Benoît Ryelandt, the Belgian envoy to Rwanda, said that "commemorating the Genocide against the Tutsi is a necessary gesture because what happened concerns all of us, and it is our collective responsibility, even though we may come from other countries."

He stressed that honouring victims of the Genocide transcends age and nationality.

Established in 1965, Ecole Belge de Kigali is a Belgian curriculum school in Kigali, Rwanda, which offers education from kindergarten to high school level.

It states that the goal of its teaching is that any student, whatever their cultural and educational background, with their strengths and weaknesses, can adapt, learn, and evolve in their learning in order to achieve the skills defined by the French Community of Belgium.

The school community currently has students from 25 nationalities, of which about 75 percent have Rwandan nationality.

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