The Peace Building Institute (PBI) program held in Kigali, Rwanda, ended successfully on Friday. Organized by Never Again Rwanda, a human rights and peace building organization based in Kigali, the conference attracted over 20 youthful participants from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Sudan, Burundi, DRC and Rwanda.
Now in its 13th edition, PBI been a rollercoaster of peace-building activities and a forum for exchanging knowledge, citing lessons from the Rwandan genocide participated against the Tutsi in 1994.
Participants visited Rwanda’s memorial museums and several historical sites to gather enough knowledge on the scars the genocide left on Rwanda. Some of them broke down at Murambi Genocide Memorial Centre, Murambi district in southern Rwanda, where over 50,000 Tutsis were butchered and buried during the genocide.
The aim as has been the case with past editions, was to train participants, mainly university students and young professionals, to become critical thinkers and able leaders good enough to prevent genocide in their countries and also deliver good governance.
Over 150 youth have gone through this platform that rides on the theme; “What Can Rwanda Teach the World?” the past years. In it, participants learnt how to detect signals of genocide and stopping the violent acts. They also get lessons on restorative justice, as well as unity and reconciliation. Robert Cyubahiro, a Rwandan participant, believes participating in PBI has opened him to more information than he did not know about his country’s past. “Growing up, I had heard about Gacaca courts but I didn’t know what they did. I have learnt about transitional justice and governance. I now know leaders have to be put to accountability and how citizens can become community watchdogs.
NAR organizes PBI twice a year, one for African Great Lakes participants and another for international students from Europe and other continents, with the latter set to happen in April. On his part, Mr. Johnson Mugaaga, acting executive secretary National Unity and Reconciliation Commission commends PBI for bringing youth from different countries to learn from Rwanda.
“After the genocide, we Rwandans had to discover ourselves before starting this program to unite us,” he said.
“For over 100 years people were divided, that is why it’s important to build youth into visionary leaders in programs like this for a better future.”
Dr. Joseph Nkurunziza, the NAR co-founder , says this edition has achieved all the targets that had been set, “We have not yet reached where we want PBI to be but this edition was a success. Hope to build more on this next time. We want to make PBI a fully-fledged institute in future.