Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Reconciliation Rwanda

23 years ago, in 1994, an estimated 800,000 people were killed in a 100 day period of murderous frenzy.  The week from April 7 to 13 is now known as Kwibuka - Commemoration of the Genocide.  During this week, all work stop so that the people can mourn properly.  At the University of Rwanda someone placed flowers in front of a memorial of the victims from the university.  

Commemoration activities continue for 100 days until July 3, the day the Rwanda Patriotic Army seized power and effectively stopped the Genocide.  I arrived in Rwanda with 2 other colleagues on April 13 to find all businesses closed.  We visited the Nyamata Genocide Memorial site, a Catholic church at which ~10,000 people were killed in 1994.  Thousands of skulls, bones, clothing and other belongings were kept at the church.  I believe this is the 6th time I have visited Nyamata.  But it is no less terrifying, particularly when I went down by myself to the cellar where the coffins containing the skulls and bones were stored.

An AEE Rwanda staff responsible for reconciliation gave us his personal perspective on the Genocide.  He was studying in Congo in the early 1990s and was told not to return to Rwanda even when his mother died in 1992 because of the ethnic conflict.  Later his father and brother were killed during the Genocide in 1994. Even 23 years later, he couldn’t help but cry when these events are recalled. 

Some people are now advocating the view that reconciliation is now complete and there is no need to keep the spotlight on Genocide.  However, on April 13 a survivor of the Genocide was killed, igniting fear again that the murder might have somehow been linked to the Genocide.   He, together with many people, believe that much of the wounds remain and healing must continue.  The AEE approach to reconciliation is based on Faith in the Cross - the central tenet of our Christian Faith.  All of us are God’s children - hence Tutsi, Hutu, and all ethnic can come to God to be reconciled.  AEE makes a lot of effort to integrating former prisoners, the killers, into society.  They work with Christians, Muslims, everyone. Through their efforts of Evangelism, many are converted and are being followed-up by AEE’s partner churches. 

The reconciliation in Rwanda sets an example for all of us.  

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