Thursday, June 12, 2008

Can a country recover from genocide?

Yesterday, On Point with Tom Ashbrook addressed recent changes in Rwanda, noting how much progress has been made given what horror took place there in 1994. Ashbrook describes visiting shortly after the 100-day genocide and seeing people greet each other in shock, "So many had died they assumed that friends and family were dead."

According to guest Stephen Kinzer, there are up to 1 million murderers in Rwanda, but there is not possibly the infrastructure to try them or deal with them. So, there must be healing. Kinzer noted an incident in which he saw a woman whose husband and children had been murdered by one of her neighbors with a machete. She also had a huge machete cut on her face from the same man. She was sitting on a log next to the man who had committed this crime and she told Kinzer that she forgives the man. This healing he credits to religious faith.

And now it appears to be turning into a functional, potentially middle-class country, under the leadership of President Paul Kagame. Is it a sign of great hope, or is it a front, hiding tensions and violence that is still under the surface? After all, Robert Mugabe was hailed as an agent of change when he first took power. Such an interesting discussion. You can listen here. Kinzer also has a new book called A Thousand Hills: Rwanda's Rebirth and the Man Who Dreamed It.


Michael said...

This sounds fascinating. Have you read the book?

Jessica Knapp said...

No, I haven't. It's cheaper to listen to the free NPR broadcast than purchase the book, you know?

I'll definitely post about it if I do. I'll bet you'd be interested in the economic side of things.

It really was a great radio hour, and an amazing topic.