Connecting people to the memory of genocide

By Yvonne Umugwaneza

My name is Yvonne Umugwaneza and I work for Aegis Trust in its Archive & Documentation department. Every day I communicate the work of the archive by writing stories about our activities and by organising and arranging the documents & photos on the Genocide Archive of Rwanda website. Communicating what we do is important because it provides information on the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi to people around the globe. This is one of many ways we use facts and evidence to teach the world about how the genocide was planned and implemented in Rwanda.

The activities we have range from collecting materials to digitising content and making it accessible on the website. Once documents are collected, the next step is to store them in the right format and create metadata. To do this, I go through its content to understand it well, and then select its key components. This allows me to create precise and comprehensible metadata. I also create a short description for the document to help anyone who views it to get a quick summary before going in depth. These steps ensure that materials are easily and quickly accessible from their source. It is important for us to follow a set of guidelines when uploading the content so that our users consistently access accurate information. Once a document is uploaded, described and provided with its metadata, access to it is provided through the archive’s website.

Providing information about the genocide plays a crucial role in its prevention and the peace building process. By making these archives available, people around the world are able to understand that the genocide in Rwanda was not an ethnic conflict, but a planned and systematic campaign implemented by the government against its own citizens. As people understand the nature of genocide against the Tutsi, they will gain a better understanding of Rwanda’s historical background. This is important because it helps to provide a clear picture of the genocide’s impact and consequences on the Great Lakes region. While counties in the region have a lot of differences they also have a lot in common. Understanding the history and consequences of the genocide in Rwanda helps us to understand and respond to the root causes of the conflicts that have affected some of those countries. With a good understanding of the 1994 genocide, the prevention of such tragedies will likely be increased.

The Genocide Archive of Rwanda also includes information about unity & reconciliation projects throughout the country. These are the programmes being implemented to reunite the country through a foundation of peace. Many of these programmes draw on the archive as a resource.

The aim of the Genocide Archive of Rwanda is to respect the victims of the genocide by keeping their memory alive, sharing survivors’ experiences, and engaging with people around the world to learn about what happened here in 1994. Having the materials accessible to users globally, and organised in a way that makes it easy for them to use and learn from, is an important part of achieving this objective.

Yvonne Umugwaneza is the Communications Officer for the Genocide Archive of Rwanda. She also uploads and catalogues content to be featured on the archive’s website.

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