June 10, 2023

Rwandan students at California Baptist University sing praise and worship songs in front of an audience at Staples Courtyard on April 9. The event was held to acknowledge the Rwandan genocide that took place 21 years ago. Jared Overstreet | Banner

Members of the California Baptist University community gathered April 7 and 9 to remember and commemorate the lives lost in the Rwandan genocide 21 years ago.

Speakers gave testimonies in the Copenbarger Presidential Dining Room on April 7, which several students and faculty of different nationalities attended, and then gathered around the Kugel at 8 p.m. for a candlelight walk around the campus. On April 9, some students spoke and sang worship songs in front of an audience at the Staples Courtyard.

“It teaches people about what happened and what’s still going on out there,” said Louis Flood, junior marketing major. “It gets the word out.”

In 1994, members of the Hutu majority in Rwanda slaughtered hundreds of thousands of innocent Tutsi and Hutu people because of events in the Rwandan Civil War.

“Though it happened in our country, our country has been constructing a lot,” said Jeannette Nyiramana, freshman biomedical engineering major and Rwandan native. “We have come abroad to study. There are so many people who are studying in our country. There is hope for the construction of our country.”

Nyiramana, who helped set up the CBU events, was one of seven students from her high school chosen to pursue her studies at CBU. In order to do so, she took a national exam and then went through an interview process.

“We usually have (this event) in our country so I’m here, and as a Rwandan student I have to participate because it is our history,” she said. “Where this all comes from, it’s not just walking. They took people from one place to another to kill them, so it remembers the people who made that long journey.”

The path the students walked started at the Kugel, continued through the front gate of CBU and down Magnolia Avenue through Adams Street. The walk was completed as the students entered the campus through the gate near the Recreation Center and headed back toward the Kugel, where all the participants posed for a group picture.

While April 7 was a night for remembrance of those whose lives were lost, April 9 was a night for thanksgiving. Coordinators of the event gathered to praise through songs while CBU students worshiped.

“I have definitely had my perspective changed completely,” said Adam Goodwin, sophomore biomedical engineering major. “They are opening people’s eyes. I love it.”

Leave a Reply