Welcome, David Bucara, AGLI’s New Coordinator

The African Great Lakes Initiative (AGLI) Working Group is pleased to announce the appointment of David Bucura to the position of AGLI Coordinator. David is no stranger to AGLI having served as AGLI Central Africa Coordinator (part-time) for the past six years and having worked with AGLI since its inception in 1999. He is trained as a pastor and a teacher with degrees in education, theology and leadership. He is currently completing a term as Legal Representative (General Secretary) of Rwanda Yearly Meeting. He resides in Kigali, Rwanda with his wife and daughter with another daughter and son now studying in the US. Below is David’s life story in his own words.

Susan Nowelsky, Clerk
African Great Lakes Initiative
Friends Peace Teams

David’s Story

I was born in 1966 to parents who were actively involved in the church. I was the fifteenth child born to my mother and the youngest in my family. Now I remain with 4 brothers only and no sister because they were killed during the war of 1994.

On the 6th of April 1994 the presidential airplane was shot down. President Habyarimana was killed along with the head of the Rwandan army. I call this evening “A Descent into Hell.” This was a tragic evening for me and my family and for all Rwandans. It was also a tragedy for Burundians because the Burundi President Cyprien Ntaryamira died with Habyarimana. They were returning from a meeting of the heads of state of the countries of the Great Lakes Region in Tanzania. This tragedy was the beginning of the Tutsi genocide and massacres of those Hutu accused of being allies of the Rwannda Patriotic Front. Our country lost many people during the genocide in 1994.

We were living together; nothing had happened before that terrible war. We had no problem with our neighborhood in Gisenyi, one of the provinces of Rwanda, where I was living. Hutu and Tutsi had no problem living together as we were all treated as brothers and sisters. As a pastor I assisted with a lot of marriages between Hutu and Tutsi. I can’t understand from where the devils of 1994 came.

We lost many in our families; we lost more Friends — members of Rwanda Yearly meeting. The Hutu killed the Tutsi; and some Tutsi sought revenge on the Hutu. As a consequence, we have many widows and orphans. Every family must help one orphan in our country, but it’s still very difficult. During the Genocide I fled from Kigali by foot and I was separated from my wife, Rachel. She took her own way and I took mine. By the grace of God we were rejoined in Congo after one month. Our first child was born there.

After the Genocide we Friends (Quakers) met at Kigali and were thinking what to do, how to respond to the dramatic situation. From there, Rwanda Yearly Meeting decided to start a Peace Building and Reconciliation Program. At that time I was one of the leaders of the Friends church, and all churches were accused of having done nothing to stop the Genocide. But we tried and we had courage to promote peace at that terrible time. We had problems starting this program. We were mocked and even accused by people to the government. Eventually the people started to understand that we needed peace and reconciliation in our country. The government started the same program and we had a good time to work closely with the government.

In 1999 a group from the USA – what became the African Great Lakes Initiative (AGLI) of the Friends Peace Teams — came to Rwanda. One of the people on the team was David Zarembka. They explored and had time to visit some places of the country. They were touched by what happened in Rwanda in 1994. AGLI began to help us to continue the program on peace and reconciliation (AVP), and trauma healing. AGLI continues to support Healing and Rebuilding Our Communities, scholarships for orphans and vulnerable children, mediation and peer mediation, the Children’s Peace Libraries and AVP in prisons through designated funds. The support base has been expanded to include the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), Quaker Peace & Social Witness (QPSW) of Britain and Quaker Service of Norway.

My call continues to be to work for peace in my country and in Africa. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. I need to seek peace everywhere and make efforts to live in peace with all people. I have been inspired by my parent’s experience of following and serving God. They were helping all people — Hutu, Tutsi and Twa, even visitors. There was no discrimination.

David Bucura, Coordinator
African Great Lakes Initiative
Friends Peace Teams

To contact David, please send an email to bucara@aglifpt.org.