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Graduate Studies Lecture Series Examines Rwandan Genocide
The genocide in Rwanda and that nation’s struggle to reconcile its citizens with one another was the topic of the fourth installment of the Graduate Studies Lecture Series.
Dr. Ian McIntosh, Director of International Partnerships of the Office of International Affairs at IUPUI; and Kizito Kalima, survivor and co-founder of the Amahoro Project for Forgiveness and Reconciliation, delivered lectures on the subject in the Wynne Courtroom on February 5, 2013.
The genocide in Rwanda happened in 1994 when the rival ethnic Hutu and Tutsi peoples clashed for control of the government. Death toll estimates over the approximately 100 days of the genocide range from 500,000 to 1,000,000, as much as 20 percent of the population.
Dr. McIntosh talked about Rwandan efforts to create an ethnic free society, where the use of the names Hutu and Tutsi are curtailed, save for commemoration of the genocide. He outlined some of the stages of reconciliation the government has put in place for its people, in addition to the elimination of ethnic distinctions, including the granting of partial amnesty for crimes in exchange for the truth of what happened during the genocide, and the mandating of apologies on the part of the perpetrators of the crimes and the acceptance of those apologies by those harmed by crimes.
Kalima talked about how he survived the genocide, which began in April 1994 when he was a freshman in high school. He is Tutsi, and survived a blow to the head from a man wielding a machete. Kalima said he was determined from that point that if he had to die, it would be by a bullet. He ran from people with guns every time he was rounded up and while he was shot at, the bullets never hit him. He eventually hid in a banana plantation until peace was restored in July 1994.
Sports were a refuge for him, Kalima said, and he eventually found solace and stability at school in Uganda. He immigrated to the United States, and moved to Indianapolis for work in 2006. His mission is to help other young genocide survivors. He believes that the Rwandan plan for reconciliation “looks good on paper” but that “genuine reconciliation has to come from the heart.”