Let’s not lose the battle against forgetting

  • Margot
The “battle against forgetting” is an ongoing one, and we have a duty not to allow present and future generations to forget the past was the message that came across forcibly at a moving ceremony at the Old Fort building at Constitution Hill in Braamfontein recently.
by MARGOT COHEN | May 04, 2016

Pictured: Tali Nates, director of the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre with Piers Pigou, of the South African History Archives.

The Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre (JHGC) and the Rwanda High Commission in Pretoria hosted the event where some 140 Rwandans lit candles in memory of the hundreds of thousands of Tutsis -  estimated at one million - who were killed in Rwanda 22 years ago.

Tali Nates, director of the JHGC, welcomed the guests, with a special mention to the Rwanda’s High Commissioner in South Africa, Vincent Karega, Piers Pigou of the South African History Archives and Bantu Holomisa, leader of the United Democratic Movement.

“We stand in solidarity with Rwanda, the million who were murdered and those who lived through it,” she said.

For Pigou, the images of working around memory, sharing experiences and their relevance in a contemporary setting, reflect the past of post-conflict societies.

Karega said: “We value our partnership with the Holocaust Centre. The genocide against the Tutsis is a crime against humanity. We need to stand together to start again, to build values, no matter our skin colour or ethnic differences.

“We honour the courage of the survivors. We can’t forget, but we forgive. Our moral obligation is to leave a better legacy for our children.”

He added that Rwanda today is a beacon of hope; its leadership has changed.

The screening of the eye-opening film, “A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake”, was shown to the audience. It revealed the complex issues that surround memory, reconciliation and healing in communities emerging from genocide and other forms of conflict, such as in South Africa, Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia and Northern Ireland.

The film also touched on the work of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (from 1996-1998) and how a South African theatre troupe ignited a dialogue among people’s raw memories of atrocity. 

The film aims to raise awareness about ongoing justice and accountability in relation to the unfinished business of the TRC.

Jazz legend Hugh Masekela’s music lent special poignancy to the occasion.




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