Faith Promise Sunday: Theoneste Nzaranyimana, Jr. from Africa University
Theoneste (Theo) Nzaranyimana, Jr., is a PhD student in youth development and agricultural education at Purdue University. A native of Rwanda, Theo completed his undergraduate work in horticulture at Africa University in Zimbabwe. He received a master’s degree in agriculture and a certificate in STEM education and leadership from Illinois State University. His dream is to seek an instructional or extension program position where he can work with others to impact the global food system. He also wants to inspire urban youth to learn about gardening.
Information on Rwanda and the genocide (from the CIA Factbook):
- Rwanda is an African nation of 10 million people.
- In 1959, three years before Rwanda received independence from Belgium, the majority ethnic group, the Hutus, overthrew the ruling Tutsi king. Over the next several years, thousands of Tutsis were killed or driven into exile.
- The children of these exiles formed a rebel group, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), and began a civil war in 1990.
- This war, along with political and economic upheaval, exacerbated ethnic tensions, culminating in April 1994 in the state-orchestrated genocide of roughly 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus (some estimates are up to 1 million).
- The Tutsi rebels defeated the Hutu regime and ended the killing in July 1994, but approximately 2 million Hutu refugees, many fearing Tutsi retribution, fled to neighboring countries. They formed an extremist insurgency bent on retaking Rwanda.
- Classified documents from the Clinton administration released in 2004 reveal that senior U.S. officials knew of the killings in Rwanda and privately used the word “genocide” but chose not to go public because of the president’s decision not to intervene.
- Despite international assistance and political reforms, including Rwanda’s first local elections in 1999 and its first national elections in 2003, the country continues to struggle to boost investment and agricultural output. Ethnic reconciliation is complicated by the real and perceive Tutsi political dominance.
- The intolerance of dissent, the nagging Hutu extremist insurgency across the border, and Rwanda’s involvement in two wars in the Democratic Republic of the Congo continue to hinder the country’s efforts to escape this bloody legacy.
Additional information about Theo: