First Lady Mrs Jeannette Kagame has warned Africans, especially the youth and politicians about the negative outcomes associated with divisionism.
Mrs Kagame was speaking in Windhoek, Namibia, during the Be Free Nation Building Dialogue, a series of forums organised by the First Lady of Namibia, Mrs Monica Geingos, to encourage open discussions between young people, politicians, academia and experts, around important topics.
This particular Be Free Forum focused on tackling issues around intergenerational trauma of post-conflict societies and provided an opportunity for participants to share their experiences and best practices related to rebuilding the identities of their societies after conflict.
Participating in the forum were also high-level members of the Rwandan National Unity and Reconciliation Commission.
Speaking to the audience that included youth, youth activists, academia, political scientists among others, Mrs. Kagame used the example of Rwanda’s dark history of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi to urge participants, in particular the youth, to rise above divisionism and work hard to ensure unity within their communities, and the continent.
“Rwanda’s dark past had an equally dark underbelly: divisionism, hate and violence,” she explained. “In a land of one common language, one religion, and no borders separating ethnic groups, these divisive politics led to an artificial divide in our people, families and friends turned foes; mothers killed their children, born from inter-ethnic marriages.”
With this, Mrs Kagame explained to participants that rebuilding the identity of a society after a conflict was not “easy or guaranteed to succeed.”
“It requires deep introspection, to unpack and identify what went wrong to begin with; collective honesty and fortitude to face the ugly truth of the past and admit that it happened; and the patience to go through the painful steps of healing: anger, desire for retribution, inevitability of forgiveness and quest for closure through unity and reconciliation,” she revealed.
She also emphasized the need for nations to share experiences, and learn from each other and finally calling upon young take full responsibility of working for peace, by drawing from the past.
“To think that the past does not involve you is an easy thing to do. However, for you to take up the mantle, pick up from where we have left, and to build a better, more prosperous future.”
The event also featured a panel discussion ‘Building Nations in a Post Conflict Society’, featuring Monique Dr Nsanzabaganwa, the First Vice Chairperson of Unity Club, Intwararumuri; a guest lecture on Post Genocide Reconstruction, delivered by Bishop John Rucyahana; as well as an interactive dialogue with First Ladies, Mrs Jeannette Kagame and Mrs Monica Geingos.
President Paul Kagame and First Lady Jeannette Kagame are on a 3 day state visit to Namibia.