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Seeking Peace Instead of Revenge


As part of the Western Illinois University Theme Speakers Series War and Peace: From Personal Conflict to Global Resolution, the school will host Dr Joseph Sebarenzi on Tuesday, April 2, 7:00 pm in the University Union Heritage Room.

Sebarenzi survived the 1994 genocide in his home country of Rwanda, but his parents, seven siblings, and other relatives were killed. Instead of seeking revenge, Sebarenzi sought peace and reconciliation.

“There are no other options. There are no other reasonable ways for individuals and for the country to recover and have a normal life after a genocide or after a war,” Sebarenzi said in a phone interview with Tri States Public Radio.

The only viable route is to embrace peace and reconciliation, not revenge.

Sebarenzi said revenge perpetuates the cycle of violence and leads to more upheaval, whereas peace and reconciliation lead to healing and economic development.

After the genocide, Sebarenzi led the Rwanda Parliament for several years. He eventually left the country after an assassination attempt. He’s now involved with the Washington DC-based School for International Training Graduate Institute, where he teaches conflict resolution.

He said the Institute brings together people from around the world – mainly from war-torn countries – to help them gain skills in how to manage and avoid conflict.

Sebarenzi said that if he could bring world leaders to the Institute, he would tell them that the best investment they could make is in peace.

“We are all human beings and we all need to do good to each other. If we do, then we will use our resources to develop the country in terms of infrastructure, education, and healthcare, instead of using limited resources to maintain peace through more police (and) more military.”

Sebarenzi holds out hope peace can eventually be achieved if leaders are willing to change how they view the world.

He also would like to educate young children on the values of kindness, forgiveness and generosity.

Rich is TSPR's News Director.