“147 is not just a number”. These are the words that were uttered by Faith Koli, a journalist from Nairobi, at an event hosted by the Drama for Life (DFL).
The DFL held the event on Thursday to commemorate the 21st anniversary of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, the recent Kenya University attack and the xenophobic attacks in South Africa.
DFL invited three former Wits students, from different African countries, to tell their stories of each of the issues above. According to the director of DFL, Warren Nebe, the aim of the event was to reflect on these incidents and to heal.
On April 2, Garissa University College in Kenya was attacked by Al Shabaab militants and almost one hundred and fifty people were killed.
The theme for the meeting was #WhereAreOurLeaders, and the governments of the different countries were blamed for inaction..
Theodogene Niwenshuti, a Rwanadan genocide survivor, recalled how his father, amongst hundreds of people from his village, was killed: “I forgave the people but I still struggle to forgive the government, for it failed us.”
His father was shot in front of him during the Rwanda genocide.
Sibongile Bhebhe, a woman from Zimbabwe, talked about her experiences of xenophobia in South Africa.
Esmeralda Cloete, an Honours student in Drama Therapy, told Wits Vuvuzela that the experience was “deeply touching and piercing,” she said.
“It questioned one’s objective in the world, it spoke to humanity.”
The event ended with a candlelight service during which all these incidents were reflected on deeply.