Managing post-genocide Rwanda through transforming people’s minds (continued)

The blind obedience by whatever values that are promoted as a sense of how human beings should behave without clarity and a measurement of their implications deprives an individual of the capacity to have an insight and makes the person liable to succumb to anything that appears attractive and a possible solution to one’s myriad problem.

The blind obedience by whatever values that are promoted as a sense of how human beings should behave without clarity and a measurement of their implications deprives an individual of the capacity to have an insight and makes the person liable to succumb to anything that appears attractive and a possible solution to one’s myriad problem.

It is against this background that we saw people who killing Tutsis, only to take two or three cows. They never did any elementary cost-benefit analysis!

The then Rwandan government should be blamed for making the so called ethnic groups live in a way that does not wholly bring them together. Look at the so called ‘Ten Hutu Commandments’ that were meant to completely keep the two people apart. Why do you think for example, a husband could kill a wife and vice versa? The reason is that human beings are also part of their experiences.

Experiences that are not life promoting should be avoided. Furthermore, the killing was an assault on love. Those who killed their wives and husbands may have vowed to love them before the wave of killings. But the killing nullified the commitment they had made. They never therefore loved; otherwise, they would not feel pleasure in inflicting pain on the persons they loved.

It should be reminded however, that murder was seen as a means of achieving wealth. It was very easy to manipulate the population that was very poor. The poor thus joined the trail of killing because they wished to be wealthy. Being wealthy is good but the way one acquires it, determines the way society perceives him or her. In this, case those who committed genocide wanted the property of their victims through the negation of their victim’s lives. To be wealthy requires hard work in concert with the proper attitudes.

As the common saying goes "a poor man is never free". The inference here is that, if the people were not as poor as they were, they would have resisted. They would have reflected. They would have been imaginative and insightful.

Education and the transformation of the mind

Since wars and for that matter, genocide begins in the minds of men and women; it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be created (UN).

The human species seem to have a virtually capacity for making harsh distinctions between groups and for justifying violence on whatever scale. In Rwanda for example, violence against Tutsis was as justifiable as eliminating a weed in your garden.

Although philosophers hold that conflict is part of human nature with attendant result and that human person is always in conflict with the self, human conflict is a subject that demands the most careful inquiry and searching inquiry. It is a subject that demands public understanding. Education in Rwanda has yet to address this challenge. This is not surprising given that education in pre-genocide period was founded on an ideology of irreconcilable differences meant to keep Rwandans apart and not to explore their commonality.

Can we do better? Can we change our minds long nurtured on a concoction of hatred? Is it possible to modify our attitudes and orientations so that we practice tolerance, negotiation, dialogue and mutual aid in Rwandan society? Since as we said before, human beings are a result of their experiences, the answer is yes. If the environment promotes all these values it is possible to transform the mind through education.

We need a system of education that empowers the people with the capacity to say no to what is wrong and yes, to what is right. This calls for a kind of an independent mind able to judge issues rationally. It should help question that adaptive nature of ethnocentrism and prejudice that were deep rooted in children at a tender age. It should be one that does not assign negative values to those who are not of our groups whether Hutu or Tutsi.

There have been remarkable efforts by the mass media after the genocide to try and educate the masses on the dangers of ethnocentrism. But, this should be backed or reinforced by what occurs in schools, in the streets, in churches, at home, etc, so that the cumulative effect of wide spreading frustrating conditions that also exacerbates the development of prejudice and stereotyped thinking will not have any room.

Education through the family, schools, the media and community, must be turned into a force for reducing individuals and group hatred. It must serve to enlarge our social identification in light of common characteristics and subordinate goals. It must seek a basis for fundamental human identification across regions in the face of an obvious conflict. We are in fact blessed with one language and the culture is not real different.

Experience has shown that the extent of contact between groups that are negatively oriented towards one another is not the most important factor in achieving a more constructive orientation. Much depends on education, whether contact occurs under favourable conditions or not.

Education at school can promote attitudes; values and knowledge that will help construct relations that do not deify hatred among Rwandans. It should be an emancipating education. In other words, the education we give our children should not have unnecessary and dangerous attachment to our former colonial masters. The colonialists had a kind of education that was not meant to serve the interests of Africans and Rwandans were no exception.

The African and Rwandan mind for that matter was colonized, as it is evidenced by the fact that we still cherish their values. Unless we are able to unchain ourselves through relevant education, our future remains uncertain. Our mind was wrongly programmed and we need to decolonize it.

Our children should not be given an education that will lead them in the direction in which they will continue to live in this circle started by our colonial masters; they should learn to live together in harmony, free from any kind of acquired hatred. Indeed in Rwanda after the experience of genocide, peace is fundamental but can only be realised if the Rwandan mindset is transformed. This is of course a process, but it must start. Our generation may not copy properly or be able to adjust itself to the realm of transformative process, but the future generations will do. Setting the mind towards hate and destructive, takes time. Similarly, transforming the mind to ingrain respect for differences founded on love is also a long process. Nevertheless, we have got to go on relentlessly as we encounter and over come obstacles one by one.

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