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Rwandan Ambassador to Speak at “Kwibuka” Commemoration at University of Hartford


Posted 03/25/2014
Posted by David Isgur

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The University of Hartford will commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Genocide of the Tutsi in Rwanda with a Kwibuka 20 event, highlighted by remarks by Mathilde Mukantabana, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Rwanda to the United States of America and non-resident Ambassador to Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina. The University is one of the “Kwibuka” sites designated by the government of Rwanda; Kwibuka means “Remember” in the language of Rwanda. (For more information, visit http://www.kwibuka.org/)

The program, which is free and open to the public, will be held on Thursday, April 3, beginning at 6:30 p.m., in Wilde Auditorium (which is located on the lower level of the Harry Jack Gray Center), on the University of Hartford campus, 200 Bloomfield Ave., West Hartford.

The University’s Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies is also hosting an exhibition on “Genocide” in the University’s Museum of Jewish Civilization. The exhibit features photographs and artifacts that document the devastation and then recovery from the Holocaust and the genocides in Armenia and Rwanda. The exhibition will be open throughout the day on April 3 as part of the University’s Kwibuka 20 Commemoration. The event is a part of the Greenberg Center’s new Holocaust and genocide education initiative launched last year with the visit of Rwandan President Paul Kagame. Dr. Joseph Olzacki, special advisor on Genocide Education at the Greenberg Center, has spearheaded a proposed new program between the University and the Republic of Rwanda.

Prior to the Rwandan ambassador’s remarks, the University’s Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies will host a panel discussion on genocide and its aftermath and the task of rebuilding and recovering. Among those speaking will be Avinoam Patt, the Philip D. Feltman Professor of Modern Jewish History and director of the Museum of Jewish Civilization at the University of Hartford; Glen Mitoma, director of the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center at the University of Connecticut; Mari Firkatian, professor of history at the University of Hartford; Shyamala Raman, professor of economics and international studies at the University of St. Joseph; and Parfait Gasana, a native of Rwanda and a graduate student at UMass, Boston.

For more information, contact the Greenberg Center at 860.768.4964 or mgcjs@hartford.edu.

Prior to her appointment, Ambassador Mukantabana was a tenured professor of history at Cosumnes River College (CRC) in Sacramento, Calif., from 1994 to 2013. She is also co-founder and president of Friends of Rwanda Association (F.O.R.A), a non-profit American relief association created in the wake of the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi in Rwanda. Since its inception, FORA’s dual purpose has been to expand the circle of friends of Rwanda and to support survivors of 1994 Genocide through a variety of initiatives and relief efforts. In addition, under the aegis of United Nations for Development Programs (UNDP), Ambassador Mukantabana started the academic program of social work at the National University of Rwanda in 1999, and as an Invited Lecturer taught a variety of subjects in their summer program until recently.

Ambassador Mukantabana has been a passionate community organizer for several decades and was a co-founder of many associations and organizations whose main purpose was to promote a positive engagement and collaboration of the Rwandan communities in the United States with other groups and organizations for the benefit of their respective countries. She is an active board member of the Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Sonoma State University in California and belongs to many local and international organizations including the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS) and the Organization of African Leaders in Diaspora (OALD) that she co-founded and for which she is currently acting as chair.

Fluent in English, French, Kinyarwanda and Kirundi, Ambassador Mukantabana holds a bachelor’s degree in history and geography from the University of Burundi as well as a master’s degree in social work with special emphasis in community organization, planning and administration and a master’s of arts in history, both from California State University in Sacramento.