Skip to content

Dear White People, Love Rwanda

April 6, 2009

At a conference last week about Rwanda, Jacqueline Murekatete, a genocide survivor who lives in New York and works with a nonprofit called Miracle Corners, was addressing an audience of mostly white, mostly older, mostly-academics–sociologists, political scientists, anthropologists, and lots of lawyers. They all spent a good chunk, if not all, of their careers focused on Rwanda. The pre-colonial history of Hutu and Tutsi, the several rounds of mass killing before the 1994 genocide–this was all old hat to this crowd, and at many junctures, there was lots of vigorous nodding, of the “I’m an insider, too” variety.

Jacqueline was making a point, almost a plea, about the complexity of Rwandan history and what that means for things that might sound easy, like “reconciliation.” She referred to the ethnic categories entrenched by the Belgians, and vigorous nodding began.

And then she said suddenly, “We even have clans, by the way, more than 30 of them. We have other things that you don’t know.”

Hubris Patrol, 1: Bazungu, 0.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Jennifer Martin permalink
    April 17, 2009 1:13 pm

    As a college student, I have seen many student organizations sprout in response to the Rwanda genocide. It is certainly a stride against the apathy that is spreading across our nation’s youth, but I have to wonder if caring about Africa is a “fad,” lacking understanding of the complexities and realities at hand. It seems that it is not all that uncommon for those who did not experience the genocide themselves to view reconciliation and trauma counseling as straightforward ways to heal a broken nation.
    I was reading in Africa News that Murdoch University in Australia is working on a campaign to help Rwanda survivors in trauma counseling based on the latest research on psychological resilience. Researchers planned on the normal approach: heal the individuals, which will in turn help heal the nation. It did not take Murdoch researchers long, though, to find that the survivors in Rwanda could not share their stories without treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder. Rwanda only has two hospitals for psychiatric treatment and is in desperate need of facilities that deal with the issue. Miracle Corners seems to be building a community center to make a difference, however.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: