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Rwanda in retrospect, 20 years ago

By Connor Donnelly

This April recognizes the 20th anniversary of one of the most horrific atrocities in recent history, the 1994 Rwandan Genocide.  

On April 7, 1994, a 100-day killing-spree of Tutsi Rwandans began in the tiny country of Rwanda, which left about 800,000 people dead to ethnic conflict.

History professor from the College Matthew Bender gave a special lecture to a large group of students on Monday, April 14, in honor of the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide. Bender, whose specialty centers on African history, featured an introduction on the topic followed by the screening of the documentary film “Ghosts of Rwanda” as part of the lecture.  

“I like to think of Rwanda as a case study of the best and worst of humanity,” Bender said in his introduction.  

Appropriately, “Ghosts of Rwanda” showcased Bender’s point as to why Rwanda would be a case study for the worst of humanity. 

The film focused on the days leading up to the genocide, the days during the genocide and the days after the genocide by giving the students a true idea of the horror. Through images and interviews with witnesses and victims, the film retold the atrocity in a harrowing visual format.

Although many of the students in attendance already had some knowledge of the genocide, the images and stories from the film seemed to shock every person in attendance.

“I found the film and the lecture overall to be very interesting and shocking,” freshman communication studies major Michael D’Angelo said. “The images in the film really gave me a better idea of how horrible this was.” 

After the film, Bender answered questions from the students in the audience, many of whom were curious to hear more about the subject.  

“Along with the Holocaust, Rwanda is one of the best examples of genocide,” he said.

The lecture made students appreciate just how safe the United States is today and made them aware of how tragic and horrible the genocide really was. Its impact still shocks and appalls 20 years later.



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