Skip to main content

Peace lecture kicks off the MLK Celebration at ASU's Polytechnic campus

January 09, 2006

MESA, AZ -- Joseph Sebarenzi, former head of the Rwanda Parliament, 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. Yet, years later, as a senior government official in a position to exact revenge, he instead pushed for peace and reconciliation. "Revenge is like adding guilt to victim hood," says Sebarenzi. "It solves nothing. At some point, we have to ignore the past and envision the future."

As part of ASU's celebration of Martin Luther King, Sebarenzi will kickoff the MLK 2006 Celebration at the Polytechnic campus in southeast Mesa with a free lecture titled, "Peace, Reconciliation and Restorative Justice," at 7 p.m., Feb. 8, in the Student Union Ballroom.

Sebarenzi rose through the ranks of Parliament, eventually becoming Speaker, third in power only to the country's president. As the leader of Parliament, Sebarenzi worked to improve good governance, speaking out for the independence of the legislature and against corruption in the government. Forced to resign, and informed of a plot to assassinate him, he fled Rwanda and found exile in the United States. He still champions a broad process of restorative justice in Rwanda as the country struggles with the ongoing effects of mass genocide and retaliatory killing among its Hutu and Tutsi people.

Today, Sebarenzi teaches conflict resolution at the School for International Training, lectures on his experiences, consults, and is engaged in a Ph.D. program in Peace Studies at the University of Bradford. He holds an Honorary Doctorate from Marlboro College located in Vermont. Sebarenzi also has been an executive for national and international nonprofit organizations and a regular speaker on the BBC and Voice of America.

Sebarenzi will tell his dramatic and historic story, imparting a message of peace and forgiveness.

In addition to Sebarenzi, ASU history professor Matthew Whitaker will hold a book signing and present "Race Work: The Rise of Civil Rights in the Urban West," based on his new book, at 10 a.m., Feb. 13, in Student Union Ballroom C. Books will be available for purchase at the ASU Bookstore in the Union prior to the event.

For more information on Matthew Whitaker's presentation, call (480) 727- 1909. For information on the Sebarenzi lecture, call (480) 727-1215. Both are free and open to the public.

Arizona State University campuses throughout the Valley will be remembering the works and spirit of Martin Luther King through its "Embrace His Passion" MLK 2006 Celebration. For more about all of the activities at ASU campuses, visit