One of Nigeria’s foremost dramatists,

University of Ibadan’s Emeritus Professor

of Drama, Femi Osofisan, was recently

honoured by the Rwandan government for

his 1994 play, Reel, Rwanda, which spotlighted the

genocide visited on the country in the ‘90s.

Tagged Kwibuka20, the event was designed to

commemorate the 20th anniversary of the genocide

in the country. The events started on January 7, 2014. HERI

Kwibuka is the Kinyarwanda word for “remember”.

The theme of the commemoration is: Remember,

Unite, Renew. More than one million victims of the

genocide against the Tutsis and moderate Hutus were

recorded in 1994.

At the “Café Littéraire – Thinking and writing our

history: the pan-African memory of the Genocide

against the Tutsi in Rwanda” on April 6, Osofisan

was one of ten writers who has written about the

genocide, and who was invited to Kwibuka20. Other

writers include the Cote d’Ivorean Veronique Tadjo

who wrote L’ombre d’Imana, and Monique Ilboudo


The purpose of the Literature Café was to reflect on

the important role that arts play in ensuring that the

world knows about what happened in Rwanda, and

to make sure that genocide never happens again – in

Rwanda or elsewhere.

Over the past twenty years, various artistic – individual

and collective – initiatives have taken place.

Among these are the “Rwanda écrire par devoir de

mémoire” and Fest’Africa literature festival, which

were held in 2000.

Several individual Rwandan artists have produced

important works, mainly testimonies, and have

received prestigious prizes and international recognition

for their genocide-centred creations. Comic

books about Rwanda have also played a central role,

reaching out to audiences that would not naturally

be interested in the history of genocide in Rwanda.

To date, more than ten books have been authored,

several theatre productions have been staged and numerous

university research studies and translations

have been made.

Excerpts from Osofisan’s Reel, Rwanda were performed,

along with other dramatizations and poetry

performances. The writers also talked with students

from the University of Rwanda in Butare. The Rwandan

president then gave a two-hour audience to the writers,

discussing the experience of the genocide, the

liberation war, and the development process afterwards.

According to Osofisan, “the horrors of the genocide

are simply unimaginable. But the reconciliation and

reconstruction efforts, together with the tremendous

economic achievements, since then are a marvel.

Kagame has a lot to teach our other Presidents.” The

writers also visited to Musambi, where the slaughter

was particularly gruesome.

The Kwibuka20 commemoration involved vast

choreography and performance at the Kigali, with

over 2,000 actors, singers and dancers enacting the

horrors of the genocide.

Nigeria was also one of the four countries praised

for its positive roles during the 1994 genocide by

the Rwandan president, Paul Kagame. The Nigerian

ambassador and president of the UN Security Council

during the crisis, Professor Ibrahim Agboola Gambari

was especially mentioned by Kagame for his contributions.

Professor Gambari was also honoured with the

Rwandan national award.



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