Former Leader of Rwandan Parliament and Genocide Survivor Delivers Message of Reconciliation
Joseph Sebarenzi

Joseph Sebarenzi, former Speaker of the Rwandan Parliament and survivor of that country's genocide in the mid-1990s, visited Limestone College on October 11th to deliver his message of peace and reconciliation.

His appearance, which was free and open to the public, was hosted in Limestone's Fullerton Auditorium and sponsored by the Limestone Chaplain's Office.

Sebarenzi grew up in post-colonial Rwanda, and as a child experienced intermittent episodes of the tribal violence which years later would engulf his country. In 1994, when Hutu extremists slaughtered more than 800,000 Tutsis, Sebarenzi was safely out of the country, but both his parents, seven siblings, and numerous other relatives lost their lives during the genocide. Years later, Saberenzi returned to Rwanda, not to seek revenge but to push for peace and reconciliation."Revenge is like adding guilt to victimhood," said Sebarenzi. "It solves nothing to act as our offenders. Nothing should derail us from doing what is right." He rose through the ranks of parliament and eventually became Speaker, a position that placed him third in power to the country's President. In his role, Sebarenzi worked to improve good governance, speaking out for the independence of the legislature and against corruption in the government.

Forced to resign, and informed of a plot to assassinate him, Sebarenzi fled Rwanda in 2001 and found exile in the United States. Later that year he began his graduate studies at the School for Institutional Training (SIT) in Brattleboro, Vermont.

Seven years later, Sebarenzi teaches conflict resolution at SIT, lectures widely to colleges and community groups about his experiences. He is a consultant to peace-building and other non-government organizations.