University News

Theme Speakers Series: April 2

March 27, 2013

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MACOMB, IL – Former head of the Rwanda Parliament Joseph Sebarenzi will speak at Western Illinois University Tuesday, April 2 as part of the Western Illinois University Theme Speakers Series. The 2012-2013 University-wide theme is "War and Peace: From Personal Conflict to Global Resolution."

Sebarenzi will speak at 7 p.m. April 2 in the University Union Heritage Room on the Macomb campus. The event is open free to the public.

Sebarenzi has endured tragedy most of us cannot fathom. He lost both his parents, seven siblings and numerous other relatives in the Rwandan genocide of 1994. Sebarenzi worked as a high school teacher in Rwanda; worked as an executive in non government organizations in Rwanda, Burundi, and in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and served as speaker of the Rwanda Parliament from 1997 to 2000. As speaker, he was referred to by many as an independent politician bent on denouncing abuses and enhancing the independence and role of the parliament.

"Revenge is like adding guilt to victim hood," Sebarenzi said. "It solves nothing. At some point, we have to ignore the past and envision the future."

Sebarenzi serves on the faculty at the School for International Training/Graduate Institute; speaks about reconciliation, forgiveness and conflict management at colleges, universities and events in the United States; and regularly appears and speaks on radio and TV including NPR, BBC and Voice of America.

In his 2010 book, "God Sleeps in Rwanda: A Journey of Transformation," Sebarenzi shares his dramatic stories of survival as a child during Rwanda's tragedies; his daring escape after he learned of the plot to assassinate him in 2000; his practical insights on how to resolve and prevent ethnic conflicts; and his wisdom on why individuals should remain positive and kind despite the sufferings they endure.

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