Exiled king, U.N. leader to speak about Rwandan genocide

General Romeo Dallaire and exiled Rwandan King Kigeli V Ndahindurwa will speak at Saturday at Coffman Union.

Josh Verges

Three weeks after Rwandan President Paul Kagame visited the University, people affected by the 1994 Rwandan genocide will gather at Coffman Union to talk about their experiences.

“I wanted to start a conversation about different communities in the Twin Cities, all of whom shared the experience of coming from a war-torn country,” said University history professor Michele Wagner, who organized the event.

“History, Healing and the Human Spirit: Ten Years after the Rwanda Genocide” is sponsored by several University departments and metro area organizations. The event begins at 8:45 a.m. Saturday and features two keynote speakers: former United Nations peacekeeping commander in Rwanda, General Romeo Dallaire, and exiled Rwandan King Kigeli V Ndahindurwa.

Dallaire, also a best-selling author, will talk about his years in Rwanda and the genocide that killed approximately 1 million people.

“He is courageously outspoken (about the United Nations’ failure to intervene),” Wagner said. “He forced the U.N. to rethink peacekeeping for the future.”

King Kigeli V will speak about Rwandan cultural ideas about healing and unity, Wagner said.

Dallaire will speak at 11:30 a.m. in Coffman Theater. King Kigeli V is scheduled to speak at 1:30 p.m. at the Campus Club.

At 9 a.m., three Rwandan genocide survivors will share their perspectives.

A study published in April from the Center for Victims of Torture in Minneapolis concluded there are approximately 30,000 refugees living in Minnesota who have survived torture.

After King Kigeli V speaks, a panel will discuss the impact of living with torture in immigrant communities.

Wagner said although the genocide happened 10 years ago, many students know little about those 100 days.

“Everyone studied the Holocaust in school,” she said. “The Rwandan genocide happened during our lifetime.”