Reconstruction and revival in Rwanda
If you are looking for a place to spend winter other than in Arizona or Florida, consider Rwanda. This land of a thousand valleys and countless hills is prettier than a postcard.
Rwanda may resonate in your memory because of the 1994 genocide and that, of course, is an awful paradox. Why would this land-locked country of beauty, this paragon of cleanliness and order, plunge into killing and mayhem?
To put this into context, Rwanda’s history matters. You may want to read my Dispatch on its genocide. What is stunningly obvious is that the rise and fall of spiritual values, beliefs, and practices does not guarantee behavioral outcomes. Rwanda is a country with as high a percentage of self-identifying Christians as you will find anywhere: 45 percent Roman Catholics, 10 percent Anglicans, and 30 percent Evangelicals.
Endemic to its self-immolation was its European colonizers, who imprinted a social distinction of Hutus and Tutsis that didn’t exist racially. They fabricated a deep and pervasive hatred within the majority (Hutus who were working at more rural and service tasks) against the minority (Tutsis who were in positions of authority with higher social status).
This hatred became the foundation for almost one million slaughtered in a matter of months. Belgium had created a social infrastructure, dividing the citizenry into classes that, in time, were intentionally exploited by the French into such passionate and heated feelings that it took but a spark to ignite them.
But today, out of the ashes, a renewed people has emerged. Their scars and scabs are but evidence of stages of healing. One doesn’t live next door to the man who has killed your parents, husband, or children and not have recurring memories of the ...