A Rwandan priest and genocide survivor addressed Creighton students to make an argument for mercy and reconciliation.
The Rev. Jean-Baptiste Mvukiyehe spoke to approximately 80 students gathered in Lower St. John’s on Nov. 5 to discuss the effects of genocide on both himself and his country.
The focus of his talk was the current efforts occurring in Uganda to promote reconciliation and forgiveness through a method of slowly introducing those convicted in the genocides to their community.
The talk resonated with some members of the audience.
Sarah Huber, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences, was intrigued by Mvukiyehe’s ability to show such mercy and understanding after the tragedy.
“The people who have been so deeply wronged being able to show mercy,” Huber said. “It is, almost impossible to conceive. It gives you hope in all the darkness.”
Mallory Murphy, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences, also said she was captivated by the talk.
“We are all called to forgive and ask for forgiveness, even in the most extreme circumstances,” Murphy said. “The people of Rwanda who are currently reconciling set a good example for people around the world to practice when oppression and injustice occur.”
Mvukiyehe, went on to describe the role the genocide has on life today in Rwanda describing the genocide as “Ce passé qui ne passe pas,” a French phrase which means “the past that never attempts to remain in the past.”
He said survivors’ lenses were controlled by how they viewed the genocide. Mvukiyehe recalled a story about how his mother reacted to news coverage of white diplomats entering Rwanda.
“‘Those guys would not have wanted to be here in 1994,’” Mvukiyehe said, quoting his mother. “She then clarified, because they have Tutsi noses, if they were here then they would be dead.”
Additionally, during his visit to Creighton, Mvukiyehe spoke to a variety of theology classes to provide some insight into Christianity’s role in Africa.
James Jay Carney, Creighton associate professor of theology, invited Mvukiyehe to speak at Creighton and hopes he can bring other speakers like him in the future.
“I believe in the power of first-person testimony, and I hope to bring similar speakers to campus in the future,” Carney said.