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UT Reflects on Rwandan Genocide

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, recently marked the 30th anniversary of the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda with Kwibuka 30, a series of events meant to engage students and community members to reflect on the tragedy.

“On one level there was the education and awareness for our students and some of the younger community members who attended,” Dr. Helene Sinnreich, Department Head and Professor, Department of Religious Studies, said. “Learning about genocide fosters empathy. There is a hope that in understanding atrocities of the past that we develop more of a commitment to human rights.”

The genocide against the Tutsi began on April 7, 1994, and into July of the same year. More than 800,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutus were killed during this time.

Dr. Gretchen Neisler, Vice Provost for International Affairs and Director of the Center for Global Engagement at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, introduces panelists during Kwibuka 30.

Kwibuka 30 began with a panel on April 11, 2024, made up of His Excellency Arthur Asiimwe, Deputy Chief of Mission, Rwanda Embassy in the United States; Dr. Carolyn Holmes, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science; Dr. Fatuma Guyo, Lecturer, Department of Africana Studies; Sinnreich; and Dr. Shayla C. Nunnally Violette, Department Head, Department of Africana Studies, who moderated the panel.

The panel discussed the concept of genocide, origins of the genocide in Rwanda, its effects, its lessons for humanity and the cultural and economic impact that occurred to make Rwanda one of the leading economies among African nations today.

“I hope that, as global citizens, our students acquired more knowledge about a horrific occurrence in more recent memory of the world and that they learned more about the vulnerabilities of acknowledging and protecting the humanity of other people, while embracing compassion to learn more, discuss and consider ways to forestall violent atrocities,” Nunnally said.

The events also included student presentations, a student reflection luncheon and a community memorial event.

To learn more about the genocide against the Tutsi, visit