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The Rwanda community in Chicago, Illinois, USA; and Africans and Friends Student Club of Truman College organized a Commemoration for the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi on April 11 at Truman College.    Rwandans came from as far away as Columbus, Indiana; South Bend, Indiana; West LaFayette, Indiana; and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 

The commemoration at Chicago
The commemoration at Chicago

Those Rwandans included Mr. Gaetan Gatete, the President of the Rwanda Diaspora in the United States and Presidential Scholars pursuing graduate education in the Midwest region of the United States.  Ms. Kendra Mutoni, officer of the Black Student Union of Harper College came with a delegation.

Diaspora from Tanzania and Uganda living in the state of  Chicago also attended.   Ms. Monica Katsigazi Tindimubona, President of the Uganda Community in Greater Chicago attended with a delegation.

The Mistress of Ceremonies was Ms. Selomie H. Berhane, Secretary of the Truman College Africans and Friends Student Club.    Visitors were welcomed to Truman College by African and Friends Student Club faculty advisor, Dr. Anghesom Atsbaha and Assistant Dean of Students, Dr. Valshkia Dabney.  

Mr. Arnold Romeo, Director of Advisory Council on Equity for the City of Chicago issued a proclamation on the behalf of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel.

The proclamation was received by Mrs. Clementine Butera Uwase on behalf of the Rwandan community in Chicago, and Africans and Friends Student Club.  

To introduce those new to Rwanda the Kwibuka short film, “Remember, Unite, Renew” was shown.  

Billy Graham Scholar, Pastor Emmanuel Ndolimana opened the Commemoration by reading Psalm 23 and leading in singing, “Mbega Urukundo” with help from Sophia Jenkins, Franklin Livingstone, and David McKenzie.  

Ms. Dary Mien, Executive Director of the Cambodian Association of Illinois shared her experience as a Genocide survivor of the Khmer Rouge regime.

She brought great empathy to the Commemoration, and strengthened resolve to prevent Genocide from happening again anywhere in the world.

Reverend Dr. Joseph Bocko of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America and the Tanzania Community Association (Midwest) brought a message of condolences from Rwanda’s neighbors.   He spoke from his experience of visiting Rwanda 14 times.   He affirmed Rwanda’s model of forgiveness and development.

Pastor Dave Jenkins apologized for the failings of America, churches in East Africa, and his own silence in 1994.

Mrs. Clementine Butera Uwase shared her testimony as a Genocide survivor who witnessed the killing of much of her family when she was eleven years old.

Ms. Annabella Uwineza also shared her testimony as a Genocide survivor.  She narrated what it was like to lose the majority of her family at the age of four.   Their Testimonials were followed by a minute of silence.

US-based Rwandan artiste, The Ben (Ben Mugisha), performed his new song, “I can See” while being accompanied by Truman College student, Peter Boateng.

Twenty candles were lit by students in remembrance of the victims 20 years ago.    Skyler Steele read an inspirational poem.

Rwanda Embassy to the United States Second Counselor, Mr. Fidelis Mironko spoke.   He articulated Rwanda’s history, affirmed the current development of Rwanda, and communicated a hopeful vision for the future.

The closing Vote of Thanks and prayer was made by Mr. Marcel Urayeneza.

The event was very well attended by both the Rwandan community and friends of Rwanda.    Many remarked they had never before had such an experience.   Words like “meaningful,” “unforgettable,” “beautiful,” and “dignified” characterized the attendee’s experience.