A recent study by the Pew Research Centre took a survey in Africa, it sampled over 20,000 people in many countries and it came up with some interesting results.
The one that stood out for me was that in both Rwanda and Nigeria, 58% the population said they feared Ethnic conflict happening again.
The situations of the nations are totally different; Nigeria is on a delicate knife-edge with a North-South or Muslim-Christian conflict very possible or almost inevitable.
Rwanda on the other hand has no such immediate fears, indeed if you looked around at our surroundings; it is hard to believe that genocide happened here. Yet we all fear the worst.
To contrast the two nations you have to see that Nigeria is going down the dark road but Rwanda has returned from it. Normally your worst fear is something that could happen to you, in Rwanda it is something that has already happened.
This fear is healthy, the moment we stop fearing the consequences of genocide then we will repeat it. If a Rwandan had been told even one month before in March 1994 that there would be a full-scale national massacre, then few would have believed it.
Of all the factors needed to institute genocide, complacency is the most crucial. We had seen mini-genocides intermittently since independence where Tutsi were massacred and yet we suffered the biggest loss.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself” I would say Rwandans are aware of their fear but not crippled by it.
There once was an ancient chief who had refugees from war and plague who came to beg him sanctuary. They told him a horrific story of strange diseases and murderous tribes attacking them.
The chief refused them sanctuary “of all the diseases you have, fear is the worst and I will not allow fear into my country.”
Fear is sometimes good, when Gideon was fighting the Amonites in the Bible, he was told to only take few men, around 300 men.
Then when they went to the river for the final drink before battle, he watched how the men drank water. Some dunked their heads in the water, to drink like dogs.
He watched for the ones with caution, who drank water while aware of danger all around them. Those are the ones he took and he won the battle.
The first enemy is fear, when a soldier enters a battlefield his biggest threat is his own fear, in war fear can get you and your entire unit killed.
When the fear inside is conquered, then you can think about the enemy, but it is that enemy within that must be conquered first.
So Rwandans are aware of the true evil nature that lurks in man, and they fear that evil nature returning. Ours is an internal battle for national healing, the fear is silent and dormant. That fear might save us by reminding us
– NEVER AGAIN.