Let’s do more to preserve the memory of our loved ones

As the curtain of one hundred days of commemoration on this twenty-third anniversary of the genocide against the Tutsi draws to a close, I finally had the courage to visit Kigali Genocide Memorial after nearly 4 years.

Last Sunday, alongside few of the Girls in ICT, we went to pay our respects and look into ways ICTs can contribute in preserving the memory of our loved ones. It never gets easier!

We left inspired to do more around Rwandans financially supporting the memorial activities to ensure we develop and own the content collected.

As it is today, all audio-visual archives are funded by donors mobilised by Aegis Trust, a UK-based NGO that strives to prevent mass atrocity and genocide through education. I applaud their efforts and achievements to-date, they’ve done a great job working under the National Commission for the Fight Against Genocide (CNLG).

However, I believe there’s more which can and must be done by Rwanda funds to ensure we own this content. We must take charge of collecting, creating and preserving stories from 1994 and the aftermath.

For example, video content is ALL done by Aegis Trust and it left me wondering, who owns this data?

Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA) and Kigali Today have a journalist in every district. What would it take for them to collect and own the testimonies/stories from the genocide and the aftermath? This would be a great employment opportunity for the students at the Africa Digital Media Academy, or InkStain who I know do this work. They’ve put together content for Ms. Geek and helped us put it online.They can be employed to do this and gain content development experience.

There’s an archive no longer working because donors stopped the funding. This was a project digitizing testimonies from Gacaca etc. and it is not working today. This is also a missed employment opportunity.

The Peace-building school based at Kigali Genocide Memorial, which needs content to use in schools both here and in other countries using the school’s model, is also funded by donor. What happens if they stop?

Today the memorial is funded and managed by Aegis Trust on behalf of CNLG, thus the memorial staff are paid by Aegis Trust also funded by donors. What happens when funds are low – salary and staff cut? Those brave hearts, all of whom are survivors do it for the passion and because it must be done. While this is admirable, it is also concerning.

Here’s what I think we can do:

  1. MINISPOC, MYICT, MINIJUST and MINEDUC take charge of digitising content, collecting, producing and preserving audio/video testimonies from around the over two hundred memorials across the country. Hundred of thousands of families visit them each year – we can begin to give them an opportunity to share;
  2. We begin monthly/quarterly/annual contributions to a fund activities aimed at preserving the memory of our loved ones. If each working Rwandan here or abroad have one hundred Rwandan francs or more per quarter, we’d have money to fund all activities;
  3. Create employment opportunities for survivors and others to do the work. I’m sure this is a task which will take years and can inspire more opportunities to create paid work.

Would you join in the effort to ensure all content is designed, developed and owned by Rwandans? This is a good and powerful ‘Made in Rwanda’ opportunity. Will you join in making it happen?

This article was originally published on the author’s blog.

Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.

newsletter

THE DAILY DOSE

Enter your email address below to receive daily recommendations of must-reads from our editors.

Leave a Reply