Kagame tells historians, researchers to document history

President Paul Kagame said it is the task of professional historians and researchers to document the historical records for future generations.

He made the call in a recorded message which was aired on the national broadcaster’s YouTube channel during the opening of International Colloquium- a symposium on research about the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi - that was held at Kigali Genocide Memorial on September 11, 2022.

The symposium, held under the theme ‘knowledge, sources and resources on the Genocide perpetrated against the Tutsi’ was organised by the Ministry of National Unity and Civic Engagement (MINUBUMWE), University of Rwanda and French historian Vincent Duclert.

“Working entirely independently and using different sources and methods, the teams led by Professor Vincent Duclert reached conclusions that broadly reinforced one another. But those reports are not the last word,” the President said.

In his message, Kagame commended French President Emmanuel Macron for his political courage in turning the page of a new chapter in Rwanda-France relations.

“Until recently, a scientific meeting on this topic bringing together French and Rwandan researchers would have been almost unimaginable. But last year, with the historic visit of President Macron to Rwanda, we have turned the page to a new chapter in our relations which is now being written.

“I take this opportunity to commend President Macron’s political courage and sincerity. The visit was made possible by the efforts of our countries to establish the facts,” he said.

In his recorded and aired message, Macron said that the symposium on 1994 genocide against the Tutsi is, ‘a major step on the way of truth and lucidity in which both countries are engaged in.’

On the side of France, he said that the symposium is an initiative which is part of a research task he assigned to French historian Vincent Duclert.

The report, he said, opened a new page and a way to boost relations between the two countries for the younger generation of both countries.

He made case for research on history and commended researchers and historians for carrying out research on 1994 genocide against the Tutsi.

“The knowledge of the past is essential to ensure bad history never happens again,” he said.

Didas Kayihura Muganga, the University of Rwanda Vice Chancellor, said the joint efforts of researchers will inform policy makers in many ways around the world on issues of memory, reconciliation, genocide prevention and peace building.

“There is a need for knowledge production for the benefit of our community. Our researchers-both national and international will present their research and best practices in the colloquium,” he said.

He said that there is still a need for more research funding to produce more knowledge to improve education quality on history.

Researcher and historian, Antoine Mugesera, made the case for collaboration among researchers and historians in studies on genocide.

“Research is a tool in fighting against genocide denial,” he said.

Clarisse Munezero, the permanent secretary at MINUBUMWE, said that the newly created ministry has been tasked to put in place mechanisms to disseminate researches on Rwanda’s history and 1994 genocide against the Tutsi and reinforce researchers as well.

“We have to conserve all information about Rwanda’s history and 1994 genocide against the Tutsi,” she said.

She added that the ministry has also been tasked to collaborate with partners-both local and international- including researchers and historians to fight against genocide denial.

According to the New Times Newspaper, the event will be held from September 11 to 19 in Kigali City and Huye District.