TCU remembers Rwandan genocide 21 years later


    Many of today’s students were either not born or toddlers when the Rwandan genocide occurred in 1994, but TCU wants them to remember.

    This week, events will be held on campus to inform students about what happened and the strides Rwanda has taken since.

    Around 800,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutu people were killed by the Hutu majority from April to July 1994, according to the United Human Rights Council.

    The genocide began when a plane carrying President Habyarimana, a Hutu, was shot down. Although there was no conclusive evidence as to which group targeted the plane, Hutu militia groups and other forces began killing Tutsis within an hour of the crash, according to

    Kurk Gayle, IEP director, said he “wants the world to know” more about the genocide and TCU is doing its part to help.

    In recent years, Rwanda switched its official language to English in an effort to unify the country. However, the sudden shift has left Rwandan students in need of furthering their English education.

    TCU has given three Carl & Theresa Wilkins Awards to Rwandan students to come to campus and to be part of the Intensive English Program for one year to better their English, said Zhenya Gurina-Rodriguez, a member of the Rwanda Student Committee and Rwanda Advisory Board.

    The events will run until Thursday centering on remembering the Rwandan genocide.

    Ten students, of which five are Rwandan, left for the District of Columbia on Monday to attend a commemoration of the genocide, Gayle said. The students will return Wednesday night.

    The Rwanda Student Committee will hold a dinner on Wednesday and watch the film “Shake Hands with the Devil.”

    The International Student Services shows a movie every Wednesday, and this week’s selection aligns with the efforts to remember the Rwandan genocide.

    A panel discussion will be held Thursday afternoon in the Brown-Lupton University Union, which will be moderated by Gayle.

    Panelists include Ambassador Dr. HE Mathilde Mukantabana, Rwanda’s ambassador to the United States; Dr. Zachary Kaufman, co-founder of Rwanda’s public library; Ms. Naomi Benaron, author; Sister Charles Marie Serafino, one of the Sisters of St. Mary of Namur and Johnson Mutibagirana, recipient of the 2014-2015 Carl & Theresa Wilkins Award.

    The panel will discuss the genocide and the effects it had on the country as a whole.

    A candlelight vigil will take place on Thursday night. Mutibagirana and other survivors will also give personal testimonies.

    Gurina-Rodriguez said that these events should “educate the TCU community” to better understand what happened, how the country coped with the genocide and how it has grown since the tragedy.