It look's like you don't have Adobe Flash Player installed. Get it now.
This Thursday night, at the Gilloiz Theater in Springfield, a filmmaker will screen his documentary on the efforts to bring together two opposing sides of the Rwandan genocide. As KSMU’s Jennifer Moore reports, he’s attempting to teach his audience the importance of one of life’s most powerful actions: forgiveness.
Patrick Mureithi was just a teenager growing up in Kenya when the Rwandan genocide occurred in 1994. He didn’t even know it was happening until after it was over.
Up to one million people were killed over the span of 100 days in a tiny country about the size of Maryland. The massacres were between two tribal factions: the Hutus and the Tutsis, with the Hutu being the main perpetrators.
For those who survived, the physical wounds have mostly healed. But the emotional wounds are as strong as ever.
Mureithi knew he wanted to do something to help heal those wounds. So he’s created a documentary called “ICYIZERE: hope.” “Icyizere” actually means “hope” in the language of Rwanda, Kinyarwanda.
In the workshops featured in Mureithi’s documentary, the perpetrators and the victims of the genocide sit in the same room, and go through a set of exercises designed to build trust between the two parties. At first, it’s obviously tense. But Mureithi attended the workshops and says he witnessed forgiveness taking place right in front of his eyes.
Mureithi was particularly moved by the interaction between Jean Batiste, a Hutu who had killed Tutsis in the genocide, and a Tutsi woman named Mama Aline, who had lost her husband, her parents, and all of her siblings.In the documentary, the two individuals take part in what's called the "Trust Walk." Mama Aline is blindfolded, and Jean Batiste holds her hand and guides her along a pathway so that she does not stumble.
The “Trust Walk” ends with perpetrators and victims giggling, releasing the tension felt at the beginning of the workshop.
Muriethi showed this same documentary at the Rwandan film festival earlier this year. During its first screening, 500 people got up and made a beeline for the door. He persuaded the organizers to try once more, and this time, he got up and addressed the audience first.
He says this film would not have been possible without the help of various people and organizations in Springfield, and he’s looking forward to sharing this project with them. Mureithi says his mission in showing this documentary to residents in Springfield Thursday night is to show the power of forgiveness.
Muriethi says this is the most powerful project he’s ever worked on, and that it’s been life-changing for him. Icizere: Hope shows this Thursday night, November 20, at the Gilloiz Theater in downtown Springfield. The screening begins at 7:00, and is free and open to the public.
For KSMU News, I’m Jennifer Moore.