When the Rwandan genocide broke out in 1994, one American, Carl Wilkens, chose to stay in the country and risk everything in hope of saving a few lives. The 2014 film I’m Not Leaving by writer/director Kevin Ekvall chronicles his experience.
On Tuesday, Jan. 30, Wilkens will participate via Skype for two screenings of the film and to answer questions afterwards. The showings at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. in MCC’s Collegiate Hall are sponsored by the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies – Muskegon. MCC Instructor George Maniates will facilitate the first showing and Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies Board Member Sarah Woycehoski will facilitate the second showing.
Both showings are free and open to the public, which will have the opportunity to reflect on how hatred can erupt into targeted violence and why some choose to stand against it.
In the spring of 1994, Wilkens was a humanitarian aid worker serving Rwanda with his wife and young family, Tensions between the Hutu and Tutsi peoples of Rwanda were high. Years of oppression, mistrust, and propaganda exploded on April 6, 1994, when the plane carrying the Hutu president was shot out of the sky by a surface air missile. In the following 100 days, hundreds of thousands of Tutsi were slaughtered at the hands of Hutu-supported militia.
As the genocide was beginning and all foreign aid workers ordered by their own governments to leave Rwanda, Wilkens made the decision to stay behind and help. He was the only American to do so. The documentary I’m Not Leaving tells Wilkens’ story of the choice to remain and what he experienced during those 100 days.
For more information, contact Trynette Lottie-Harps at (231) 777-0559.