By Gavin Sword, KF9 Rwanda

It is true that internationally, Rwanda is most known for the horrific events of 1994; a genocide that claimed the lives of more than 800,000 of its people.   There is no satisfactory way to comprehend what happened here.  Yet as a testament to the human spirit – life in Rwanda carries on.  The people I have encountered are not dwelling on the past – they are focused on the future.  Like people everywhere, they are intent on improving their circumstances, bettering themselves, connecting with others and enjoying life as best they can.  As a people, they are proud of their country, whatever its past, and the strides made to move on from that dark era in Rwanda’s history are nothing short of awe-inspiring.

Rwandans I have met seem excited about their country’s new role as an emerging star of Africa and a model for peace and prosperity after enduring unspeakably difficult challenges.  Wouldn’t it be nice if Rwanda becomes a shining example of reconciliation for countries around the world facing deeply ingrained, seemingly intractable issues where violence and conflict have been ‘inevitable’?

Last night, my wife and I attended a reggae dance with a local Rwandan band and many in the crowd were moved to tears when they performed a rendition of Bob Marley’s “No Woman no Cry” with the lyrics adapted in a profound and moving way.  I’ve included a portion of them below;

“Good friends we have had, oh good friends we’ve lost along the way

In this bright future you can’t forget your past

So dry your tears I say…

My fear is my only courage , so I’ve got to push on thru.

And hear me say to you…

No more gen-o-cide

No more gen-o-cide

Hey little darlin, say don’t’ shed no tears;

No more gen-o-cide….

Everything’s gonna be alright

Everything’s gonna be alright

Everything’s gonna be alright now”

Rwanda is not perfect and there are layers of healing that still must occur; this is evident even to a newcomer like myself.  So, yes, there is still much work to be done.  But as with anything in life, it is not so much where we are, but how far we have come and even more importantly where we are going.  And thinking this way makes me believe that Rwanda may just become that shining example of ‘impossible’ reconciliation, peace and healing.

/>
<< Fellows Updates