By Shiho Kuwahara, University Volunteer, UNIC Lusaka
UNIC Lusaka organized a thought-provoking event on the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust” at the University of Zambia Chapel in Zambia’s
capital, Lusaka. About 100 people, including 70 students from four secondary schools participated in the event at which the Minister of National Guidance and Religious Affairs, Rev Godfridah Sumaili was guest of honour. Other dignitaries included Ms. Janet Rogan, the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Zambia, Mr. Simon Zukas Chairperson of the Council for Zambia Jewry, Ms Victoria Chitundu, Director for Lusaka National Museum and representatives from the Jewish community in Zambia and other Faith-Based Organisations.
Rev Sumaili emphasized the importance of observing the Holocaust.
“This is a very important day as it helps us to save the coming generations from the scourge of unprecedented acts of genocide as witnessed when over six million Jews and other groups of people including Jehovah’s witnesses and gypsies were killed by the Nazi regime. Further, commemorating the Holocaust is important in reminding us of the need to protect and defend human rights,” she said.
Ms. Rogan said in her speech that it was necessary for all to not only remember the people who were mercilessly murdered during the holocaust, but also to think hard about the reasons why they were killed; to think about how the general population was incited against those people of difference. She called for need to do create awareness about need to speak and act evil ideologies so that crimes such as the Holocaust can never, ever again be perpetrated.
“To hold this kind of event is meaningful not only to honour millions of victims, but also to let people think about the value of peace to prevent the tragedy from occurring again,” she said.
Mr. Zukas shared that he lost family members during the Holocaust, a narration that left a few teary eyes in the audience. This was echoed by his wife Cynthia Zukas, who also spoke about similar losses of family members at the hands of the Nazi in concentration camps.
Pupils expressed the need for love, tolerance and unity. One pupil noted that through the event, she was able to better understand the Holocaust as it was her first-time ever hearing about these acts of genocide by the in Nazi regime. The children also observed an exhibition called Butterfly Project, a narrative about the Holocaust by children who survived the atrocities.