Managing post-genocide Rwanda through transforming people’s minds

Genocide is not a mere killing, it is normally a planned activity designed to annihilate a group of people thought to be lesser beings than the planners and perpetrators. Perhaps the question that comes to mind is what we do after the genocide.

Genocide is not a mere killing, it is normally a planned activity designed to annihilate a group of people thought to be lesser beings than the planners and perpetrators. Perhaps the question that comes to mind is what we do after the genocide.

The fact is that genocide happened in Rwanda and Rwanda is for Rwandans irrespective of their differences whether physical, birth or orientations with regard to their interpretation of reality.

The greater good can be achieved if people’s mind is transformed so as to view the other not with contempt and hate but with respect as human being.

To achieve the transformation of the Rwandan mind, not just the mind of the perpetrators of genocide but also the victims and Rwandans in general, education is identified as the best tool to achieve this.

The mind is identified as the culprit through which hate, contempt and desire for annihilation of Tutsi and other Rwandans was fomented through programs meant to orient the mind to genocide.

The genocide survivours and the Rwandan society in general should thus aim at transforming the mind of ‘genociders’ so that they accept the humanity of survivours and victims.

The ideal of Rwandan society should be the promotion of life through a promise by all that genocide in a society of persons as actors is unthinkable.

The spiral of death started in genocide cannot also be justifiable in a society that aims at the promotion of respect for humanity and social justice.

Further more the mind must not be clouded by elements of revenge, but must be guided by a critical understanding of the context of the historiographical reality of the perpetrator of genocide.

Hundreds of thousands of Rwandans participated with a lot of enthusiasm in the annihilation of a section of humanity. In such situation, the only hope remains in understanding the human impulse to hate and more importantly, the forces that transform that impulse into annihilative action.

The word mind in simple terms may be defined as that which is responsible for one’s thoughts and faculty of reason. What is the mind then? Every person has thought processes going on and self-awareness is our primary evidence of mental activity and the mind.

The brain also has a sub-conscious activity. However, an individual’s mind is an evolving dance of information and the brain is the physical vehicle for the information.

Each individual has unique, separate mind, which corresponds to the information within his unique separate brain.

The information stored and processed is like an island, and is only joined with other mental islands when appropriate bridges exist for communication of information, bridges which are suitable for transfer of information.

Normal transfer of information to the mind takes place through means such as speech, writing, or symbolic action. It is with the help of the mind that people pay attention, recall, judge, etc.

Mind therefore, encompasses various usages. For example, it is used in perception, memory, fantasy, feeling, reasoning and volition in its domain.

The mind is potentially everywhere, you may not have reached a place for example, but your mind projects itself there and the images are present in you. This explains the fact that the mind is not subject to physical confinement.

The mind therefore, unaffected, may pick images beyond the body. It operates in a multidimensional way and is able to reach forward, backwards and sideways.

Though it operates in all sides, it is able to direct a person what to do. The mind pushes some body in a certain way and at the same time prevents him to act in another way. In other words it affects the behaviour of a person.

The mind in this way has an interactive relationship with the body. In sleep, for example, the mind seems to be inactive, giving some explanation that the body has an influence on the mind.

After death, however, the body disintegrates but the mind goes to the unknown. Of course, bizarre speculations have been in place since time immemorial, varying from culture to culture, trying to explain where the mind goes after death.

However, this is not our concern today. It is normally held by some philosophers that when the mind is supplied with enough and needed ideas it tends to be more active than when it lacks the necessary ideas.

The view is summarised by Baruha Spinonza who asserts that:

“Our mind is in certain cases active, and in certain cases passive. In so far as it has adequate ideas, it is necessarily passive”.

The mind may as a result of the above two different situations be active or passive. It all depends on how you program it. It may similarly be constructive or destructive depending on the environment in which it operates.

The environment dictates much on how the mind operates. For example a mad man may move around naked with strange things in his hands, making noise, running up and down.

But, according to him, his mind is all right and he feels he is doing well in his environment. In this case the mind is in play.

It tries to rearrange all the objects around the mad man and make it seem normal to his environment that is special. What this means is that the mind works according to the way it is programmed.

That is why you will laugh at what a mad man sees to be alright and normal according to his or her mind. We can use the same argument that is given above to understand the person who commits heinous acts such as genocide, yet we could not expect the person to act in such a way.

Further more in understanding human mind, we become accustomed to the fact that anything is possible within the realms of the human mind and that is why it is important not to take things for granted.

It is always worthwhile to be on the look out for tell-tale signs of destruction and construction which is within the capacities of human mind. Construction and destruction are nurtured in by the environment.

Thus, a person who commits heinous acts is in a sense programmed and equipped with the capacity to destroy and aided by the mind does it effectively. Perhaps, he is just like the mad man.

However, this same mind if programmed positively will construct the society and re-arrange the order for the god of the community.

Because of lack of education, political naivety and being uncritical as a result, people were easily brainwashed to embrace hateful ideologies propagated by Hutu extremists.

An ignorant population is a vulnerable one. It is due to this fact that the population ingrained in their minds what they took to be the truth.

That it is, prejudice and stereotyping was the norm and the truth about being a Rwandan. This unfortunately was manifested in the captured mind of an ignorant population, which was denied any critical thinking.

It would have been very difficult to convince an educated population, that these stereotypes are enough to show the differences between Rwandans and later on use it as enough reason to create enmity between them.

Utterances for example, that the Tutsi had long tails, long ears and many others could not have been given chance in an educated society.

The pressure was both from the government and the extremists. Ideologies of hatred propagated by media were constantly inculcated into minds of people.

This led ‘some individuals’ into what they ‘may’ not have been in agreement. They may not have realised any psychic gain from the participation. Continues tomorrow.


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