Genocide in Rwanda

Rwandan Clips

2010/09/10: Rwanda: Confronting a Painful Past

Language: English

September 10, 2010: the USC Shoah Foundation Institute hosted a panel discussion that addressed the role of testimony in the process of national mourning, transitional justice, and memorialization.

Participants in the panel discussion, titled “Rwanda: Confronting a Painful Past,” included Beth Meyerowitz, USC Professor of Psychology; Mathilde Mukantabana, Professor of History at Cosumnes River College and President of Friends of Rwanda Association; Freddy Mutanguha, Director of the Kigali Memorial Centre and Secretary General of IBUKA; and James Smith, CEO of Aegis Trust. Lyn Boyd-Judson, Director of the USC Levan Institute for Humanities and Ethics, moderated the discussion.

“Rwanda: Confronting a Painful Past” was made possible through generous funding by the ACE Charitable Foundation.

  • 2010/09/10: Rwanda: Confronting a Painful Past

    Language: English

    September 10, 2010: the USC Shoah Foundation Institute hosted a panel discussion that addressed the role of testimony in the process of national mourning, transitional justice, and memorialization.

    Participants in the panel discussion, titled “Rwanda: Confronting a Painful Past,” included Beth Meyerowitz, USC Professor of Psychology; Mathilde Mukantabana, Professor of History at Cosumnes River College and President of Friends of Rwanda Association; Freddy Mutanguha, Director of the Kigali Memorial Centre and Secretary General of IBUKA; and James Smith, CEO of Aegis Trust. Lyn Boyd-Judson, Director of the USC Levan Institute for Humanities and Ethics, moderated the discussion.

    “Rwanda: Confronting a Painful Past” was made possible through generous funding by the ACE Charitable Foundation.

  • Venuste Karasira

    Language: Kinyarwanda

    Venuste describes losing his daughter right before his eyes.

    Born: 1953
    City of Birth: Kabagali (Gitarama, Rwanda)
    In hiding: Kicukiro (Kigali, Rwanda)
    Liberated by: Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF)
    Liberation location: Nyanza (Kicukiro, Kigali, Rwanda)

In 2013, the Visual History Archive expanded beyond the Holocaust for the first time, taking in 64 audiovisual testimonies of survivors and witnesses of the Rwandan Tutsi Genocide. 

That set of atrocities claimed as many as one million lives over the course of about 100 days in 1994 when government-backed militias of ethnic Hutus went on a mass killing spree targeting the country’s next largest ethnic group, the Tutsis.

The Rwandan government has since eliminated the official use of those ethnic terms in its census and on identity cards in hopes of fostering reconciliation.

Compiling the Rwandan testimonies for the Visual History Archive has been a group effort.

Conducted in the United States and Rwanda in two languages – some in English, others in Kinyarwanda – the Rwandan collection was assembled in collaboration with Aegis Trust and the Kigali Genocide Memorial, with additional support provided by IBUKA. While 15 of these testimonies were recorded by USC Shoah Foundation, the remaining 49 were recorded by Kigali Genocide Memorial staff in Rwanda.

Although the collection was integrated into the Archive recently, the Institute has been working with Rwandan organizations on genocide-related projects since 2007. Partners on the initiative to gather testimonies as part of the Rwanda Archive and Education Program include Aegis Trust, the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre and others.

In 2009, USC Shoah Foundation conducted 10 pilot interviews of survivors from the genocide who now live in the United States, using funding from the ACE Charitable Foundation. In addition to funding this project, the ACE Charitable Foundation grant enabled the Institute to organize “Rwanda: Confronting a Painful Past,” a panel discussion that took place at USC the following year.

Through the years, Rwandan organizations have sent delegations to USC Shoah Foundation and vice versa.

In fall 2011, staff members from the Kigali Genocide Memorial Center spent two months at the Institute studying the Institute's indexing methodology and lending their expertise to the development of indexing terminology appropriate for the Rwandan Tutsi genocide experience.

In February of 2014, Rwandan President Paul Kagame visited USC Shoah Foundation to learn more about the Institute’s work linking testimony, technology and education.

In April of 2014, a delegation of staff and supporters of USC Shoah Foundation went to Rwanda for a weeklong mission to learn about the Institute’s work in Rwanda, reinforce the Institute’s commitment, and share the experience with others. 

In April of 2015, a group of staff from Aegis Trust in Kigali – which maintains its own archive of Rwandan testimonies – came to USC Shoah Foundation to receive onsite training on indexing techniques and other aspects of video archiving.

USC Shoah Foundation is also working with Aegis Trust Rwanda and the Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies on the Gacaca Project to digitize and preserve 12,000 Gacaca Court case files – 60 million documents that were created after the 1994 Rwandan Tutsi Genocide.

In addition, the Institute is a key player in the Rwanda Peace Education Program (RPEP), which is led by multiple international partners to develop peace education in Rwanda. USC Shoah Foundation’s role in RPEP is to help the Kigali Genocide Memorial in strengthening the capacities of its own growing genocide archive and engage in collaborative educational programs that include teaching with testimony and the use of the Institute’s educational platform IWitness in Rwandan schools.

More about our work in Rwanda

To support any of these ongoing projects, please contact Dornsife Advancement at (213) 740-4990 or advancement@dornsife.usc.edu.