Northeastern Illinois University’s Genocide and Human Rights in Africa and the Diaspora (GHRAD) Center will host the 8th annual Genocide and Human Rights in Africa and the Diaspora Conference on March 3 and 4. It will be streamed via Zoom and advance sign-up is requested.
The conference will feature global experts in genocide and human rights, specifically in Africa and the diaspora. This year’s keynote speaker is Dr. Mahmood Mamdani, who is the Herber Lehman Professor of Government at Columbia University and is an expert in the field of African history and politics. The featured speaker is Dr. Léonce Ndikumana, Distinguished Professor of Economics and director of the African Development Policy Program at the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
The GHRAD Center staff and research team consists of a group of faculty, students, alumni and scholars who promote awareness and act to prevent genocide and other crimes against humanity in Africa.
Assistant Professor of Social Work and Interim Director of the GHRAD Center Dr. Aissetu B. Ibrahima believes the annual conference is necessary and important because all too often human rights violations against African and African-descended people are not discussed.
“Genocide in Africa and the diaspora is mostly silenced,” Ibrahima said. “We don't find a lot of written accounts, or memorials such as museums and/or monuments in various countries remembering victims of any genocide, let alone genocide in Africa and the diaspora. This conference creates a great opportunity for people to learn and have critical conversations about genocide and human rights in Africa and the diaspora from an African perspective.”
Ibrahima hopes attendees of the conference will learn about how genocide and human rights violations impact others, even beyond the acts themselves.
“I hope participants will understand the pain and trauma related to genocide,” Ibrahima said. “I also hope that participants grasp the stories of resistance, survival and strength; the journey to healing and transformation; and the determination of survivors to prevent such atrocities from happening ever again.”
Ibrahima noted a 2014 TedTalk by Dr. Barbara Coloroso in which Coloroso said, “There is a short walk from school yard bullying to a hate crime and to genocide."
“In Genocide Studies, we acknowlege that remembering what has happened is critical for prevention as well as healing and transformation,” Ibrahima said. “Telling those stories also helps in remembering the group of people who lost their lives along with their history, positions and memberships in a given community or nation. The understanding that genocide is unthinkable or atypical is very misleading. History tells us that genocide is very well planned and it happens regularly. Therefore, to prevent genocide we need to be conscious of our words and our actions as individual citizens, parents, teachers and leaders since children are watching us. They learn from our actions more than our words.”
Top photo: GHRAD Center Director Jeanine Ntihirageza presenting during the 2019 Genocide and Human Rights in Africa and the Diaspora Conference.