Fidèle Ndayisaba, Executive Secretary of the Rwanda National Unity and Reconciliation Commission, says Rwandans have demonstrated resilience in overcoming the enormous strain of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. He explains that while peaceful cohabitation is a reality in Rwanda, emotional, psychological and even physical wounds remain, especially as genocide perpetrators reintegrate into society from prison.
The government of Rwanda is leading efforts to address a persistent burden of mental health conditions and trauma; a problem Mr Ndayisaba says is linked to the nature of violence the country had – such violence of killing people because of who they are.
Mr Ndayisaba, a former governor and mayor, acknowledges that while Rwandans are steadily recovering from the genocide, eradicating genocide ideology and denial remains a big challenge going forward. He says one way to deal with this problem and enhance a sustained future of mutual healing is to learn from history and “know what to avoid”.
He says healing is a long-term process and argues that the gains made so far in Rwanda will be sustained by an encouraging commitment of young people and political will of the country’s leadership.
In an era when polarisation is gaining momentum worldwide, Mr Ndayisaba says our learning from history is perhaps too limited. He calls for more investment in peacebuilding and in educating young people to have the critical thinking to avoid being involved in violence and polarisation.
Fidèle Ndayisaba is an economist and administrator. He has previously served as the Governor of Rwanda’s Southern Province and Mayor of the City of Kigali.
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