Walking to Remember the Rwandan Genocide


In April 1994, genocide broke out in Rwanda, killing close to one million people within 100 days. On Friday, students at DePauw remembered the genocide and made an effort to learn more.

A Walk to Remember took place after a week of commemoration events that were led by DePauw junior and proud Rwandan Amata Grimata, in partnership with DePauw Oxfam, the Compton Center and the Embassy and people of Rwanda.

A Walk to Remember was started in 2003 by a 15 year-old Rwandan boy and has since spread, with events now being hosted in over 100 countries. In Rwanda, the walk lasts five miles; it begins at the Parliamentary building and ends at the national stadium, which housed the largest number of survivors. This year’s topic of discussion for the walk was the idea of Genocide Ideology.

45 percent of Rwanda’s population is under the age of 35, with 65 percent of which were born after the genocide. Grimata says that the youth of Rwanda take it upon themselves to keep the stories alive.

“It is our duty for the history not to happen again,” she said.

Between 35 to 40 people took part in Friday’s event. The walk started at the Union Building, where participants wrote messages on posters about the genocide and the importance of remembering these events. Participants were given purple ribbons in remembrance and were broken up into groups of two. They were then handed a topic involving genocide ideology to discuss on the walk.

“The victims deserve to be recognized, and deserve to be respected,” said first-year Mandy Britton. “When people aren’t educated about this, when people ignore these things, it’s kind of like silencing the victims, sort of punishing them again.”

The walk ended at the academic quad, with participants stopping along the way to discus their conversations with the group. At the conclusion of the event, four testimonies from the genocide were read, followed by a moment of silence.

“I think it is really important that we as a world, as students, are supportive of a global community. ... I learned a lot,” said junior Claire Halffield, who talked with her partner about international court and its role in genocide ideology, a topic that she was not knowledgeable about before the walk. “I think it’s important to remember [this tragedy] every year."

Grimata was moved by the support she received from her fellow students in conjunction with this event. She said, “It was tremendous to see how many people wanted to learn where I come from, who I am and my history."