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ghosts of rwanda

» Student Worksheet #2

Exploring Two Different Accounts of History

The 1994 genocide that occurred in Rwanda began with the death of the president of Rwanda. Note the two accounts below, and identify the difference in the way that the deaths are reported.

The first account comes from the U.S. State Department Web site:

Scroll down in the history section, and you will find the following paragraph:

"On April 6, 1994, the airplane carrying President Habyarimana and the President of Burundi was shot down as it prepared to land at Kigali. Both presidents were killed. As though the shooting down was a signal, military and militia groups began rounding up and killing all Tutsis and political moderates, regardless of their ethnic background."

The second account comes from the Official Web site of Rwanda:

Scroll down to "Highlights of Rwanda's Recent History." Here is what you will see:

"1994 April - President Habyarimana dies in a plane crash.
        Genocide begins."


  • Write two to three sentences telling what you can deduce from these different accounts.
  • To what do you attribute these differences?
  • Discuss your hypotheses about how we tell history.

(Optional) Scroll through all of both accounts and note at least one other difference in the way the Rwanda site and the U.S. State Department site report events.

News Update: Recent Related News
Probe Ends in Rwandan Leader's Crash

Published: March 10, 2004

PARIS (AP) -- A French investigation concludes that Rwandan President Paul Kagame was behind the fatal 1994 downing of a plane carrying his predecessor, an event that set off the Rwandan genocide, a newspaper reported Wednesday.

The French daily Le Monde said the investigation into President Juvenal Habyarimana's death also implicates 10 other prominent members of Kagame's Rwandan Patriotic Front, the former Tutsi rebel movement that has been in power since July 1994.

Questions to Consider:
The news update above describes a report that has not been issued as of the writing of this guide. How do you know if the news is true? How would you integrate this news report into what you have learned from the film, "Ghosts of Rwanda" and from your pre-viewing activities?

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