Rwandans Welcome Formation of Ministry of National Unity

The government has created the Ministry of National Unity and Civic Engagement, which will focus on national unity, preserving historical memory and promote citizenship education.

The New Times' Emmanuel Gatera spoke to some Rwandans who gave different views.

Herve Rugemintwaza, a university student in China

As proud Rwandans in China, the creation of the Ministry of Unity and Civic Engagement is perceived as a step in the right direction towards the Rwanda we want. It demonstrates real interest in deepening national unity.

Nicole Sabyombi, youth

Nowadays, the youth are exposed to a lot of hate speech and genocide denial, especially on social media. This ministry should do its best to voice up the truth in the ears of young people, for the knowledge of the truth can never be overemphasized in reconciliation and peacekeeping. This ministry is a necessity.

Alpha Bugingo, youth

It is very possible that one of the root causes of the 1994 Genocide perpetrated against the Tutsi in Rwanda is a distorted understanding of citizenship. It was confined to ethnic belonging. Since the Tutsi were portrayed by colonialists (both Germans and Belgians) as being of the Hamitic origin, they were perceived in the eyes of their fellow Rwandans as foreigners. Citizenship education is a crucial facet of reconstruction. The benefits are freeing the Rwandan youth from isolation and integrating them in the regional and international arena.

John Gatera, senior citizen

In my own understanding, based on experience, this ministry should embark on educating our youth on knowing better the history of our country (the causes of division and what has been done so far to unite Rwandans) such that they are ready to serve and defend it. This will change the current mindset among the youth of dreaming about flocking to Europe and the west for greener pastures and exploit opportunities available in Rwanda.

Jean De Die Tuyishime, a businessman in Kigali

As a businessman, I understand that one can't make it without working together as a team. Unity and good education is one of the things that can boost the development of a country. Let's hope that everyone will understand the aim of this ministry, especially us young people who still have a lot to accomplish.

Anasthase Sabamungu, a pastor

I think the ministry will be faced with a task to promote reconciliation. You cannot talk about reconciliation in the Rwandan context without tackling ethnicity. There is also a need to bridge the gap between the old and the young. This should lead to the restoration of the Rwandan culture, especially among the young generation.

Dr Abdallah Utumatwishima, Director General of Rwamagana Hospital

27 years ago, the Genocide against the Tutsi was stopped. Hard decisions were made to unite people from different areas, not forgetting the ones who were in the country. At least 70 per cent of the youth were born after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. The creation of this ministry will bring back the dignity and unity between Rwandans. The first enemy Rwanda had was hatred which was caused by the divide and rule system which led to the genocide against Tutsi. If we don't teach the young generation about this history in an active way from this ministry there is a possibility of getting this hatred back which is why this ministry was very necessary.

The last thing I can say is civic engagement. The courage that INKOKATANYI demonstrated to liberate the country cannot be seen in the young generation which is why it's necessary to teach them about the real history, which I really hope the ministry will accomplish.

Valérie Nyirahabineza, Head of Demobilisation Commission

It's a brilliant idea because Rwandans really needed it. For us, especially people in the demobilisation commission, we deal with a lot of people who lost the culture of unity or who were told not to leave each other. We hope to work with this ministry and mobilise people to be united and work together as a team. I hope that it will also target people who have false information about Rwanda. Rwandans should understand hatred as one of the reasons that led to the Genocide against the Tutsi and fight it in all forms and I hope that this ministry will help this process.

Antoine Rutayisire, Pastor

I can suspect that the mission will be what it was before because the unity of Rwandans has been on top of the agenda of the government since the Genocide against the Tutsi in 1994. I think it will carry on from where the commission of unity and reconciliation is. Even without the Genocide against the Tutsi, putting national unity on top of the agenda is a very important principle mainly for underdeveloped countries like Rwanda. Creating the Ministry of National Unity to enforce the unity of Rwandans, mainly in the aftermath of the genocide is very important. I'm very excited about it and I see great hopes and potentials in what the ministry could do.

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