Rwanda 20 Years On...
On the 7th April 2014, Rwanda will remember for the 20th year, the genocide against the Tutsi, which also took the lives of many Hutu who opposed the killings, and sent hundreds of thousands into neighbouring countries as refugees.
20 years later, the small country has seen much physical reconstruction. It is called the cleanest country in Africa, with the highest number of women in leadership, a fast growing economy, with people living on the same hills - together, go to the same schools, and same markets. This arrangement include perpetrators who were released after Gacaca (judicial process), and survivors who were mostly neighbours.
20 years later, new laws, new institutions and new symbols demonstrate a strong political will to achieve unity and reconciliation.
20 years later, those who were born during and after the genocide are grown up men and women with a lot of questions about the past, the present and the future.
20 years later, Rwanda has known incredible cases of repentance of forgiveness, though there is still many on this painful journey.
The theme Rwanda has chosen is: Remember, Unite, Renew. These are concepts in Isaiah 61:1-3 stating the mission of Jesus and by extension the mission of the church.
If remembering the 1994 tragedy does not help the church worldwide to take our responsibility to heal the broken hearted, to speak strongly against injustices, to rise against ethnic discrimination, racism, xenophobia and religious radicalism, it simply becomes a debilitating exercise to release anger, bitterness, guilt and despair.
If this time or remembrance does not draw us together and encourage us to take seriously Colossians 2:14, seek unity among the different denominations, families and communities, we end up giving the devil another opportunity to separate us, to make us believe ‘otherness’ means ‘enmity.’
If this time of remembrance does not renew us from prejudices (Hebrews 12:15) and usher us into our higher identity as brothers and sisters in the Holy Nation (I Peter 2:9), then we are just waiting for our own turn to display human madness as we ascend to the next phase in our own local conflicts.
May God use this time of remembrance to remind us of our own responsibility to learn from the past, to find healing at the cross, to forgive and ask for forgiveness, and to embrace our new identity in Christ.
This reflection was written by Nyamutera Joseph, Regional Director/Reconciliation Manager of Mercy Ministries International Great Lakes