With more than one hundred testimonies of survivors, rescuers and perpetrators of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, the Genocide Archive of Rwanda is a great educational tool. Researchers may browse through a collection of testimonies available on the archive’s website or use its search feature to find materials that suit their interests.
Also documented are experiences shared by elders. Their stories show the dynamics of the Rwandan society before the genocide, dating back to the era of colonial rule. They trace the root of the seed of hatred planted and nurtured over a long period of time. Testimonies from these veterans shed light on the incubation phase of the Genocide.
Survivors share their experiences before, during and after the genocide. Their stories portray a harmoniously constructed society turning into hell. A collection of their testimonies depict what looks like material extracted from the script of a horror movie.
"Our team collects information covering three main periods; before, during and after the genocide." Says Martin Niwenshuti, Deputy Archive Manager. The beginning of the post genocide era features survivors who are collecting pieces of their broken lives and embarking on a challenging journey emotionally, psychologically, socially and economically.
The accurate documentation of steps taken and milestones crossed in the process of reconciliation and reconstruction will undoubtedly provide important lessons for future generations.
In addition, the archive contains testimonies of people who risked their own lives to rescuers others. "The worst acts of violence were committed but there are those who never lost their humanity. They made a commitment to rescue others while putting their own lives in grave danger. Rescuers command special recognition in our society." Says Prof. Dusingizemana Jean Pierre, President of Ibuka.
As mentioned above, the archive has testimonies of perpetrators too. Most perpetrators who were convicted by Gacaca courts served lenient sentences. They are now rehabilitated into their communities.
This project has done a good job of giving the public access to first-hand information gathered through primary research.