Ongoing Forgiveness: Tale of 2 Nations

April 21, 2015

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“Ongoing Forgiveness is key to the Development of a Nation, Overcoming Horrors of the Past.”

I recently spent some time in Rwanda. Both Rwanda and my home nation of South Africa had history altering events happen twenty years ago.

The Rwandan genocide saw two tribes kill over one million people in just a few short months.

South Africa saw Nelson Mandela released, the end of apartheid, and a new democracy established. The media predicted a war which never came.

  • Both nations experienced historical events.
  • Both nations used forgiveness as a tool to move forward.

Rwanda enacted many laws and engaged in forgiveness-based exercises. They outlawed the use of any “tribe” or “ethnicity” on public documents. Many of the genocide participants reconcile through revealing the location of bodies of their victims to the surviving family members.

South Africa, let by Bishop Desmond Tutu, embarked on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission which provided forgiveness and amnesty to anyone bringing full disclosure of crimes to their victims families.

Both used forgiveness. There is one difference in my observation.

Rwanda’s effort have been ongoing while South Africa’s have been largely a thing of the past.

Rwanda Flag

A quick Google search shows many events and organizations in Rwanda which are still promoting the message of forgiveness and reconciliation twenty years on.

South Africa has buried their pain under the surface of hosting a World Cup and a more modern infrastructure.

The “New South Africa” has begun, but is still yet to emerge fully for the world to see.

While being more devolved than Rwanda to begin with twenty years ago, South Africa may have fallen behind the East African nation in many ways.

  • Rwanda has the fastest growing economy in Africa.
  • The nation is largely crime and corruption free.
  • Even down to the cleanliness, you can see the transformation forgiveness has brought.

These are merely my observations, and I am no expert.

But as I compared these two nations who had significant events happen literally weeks apart twenty years ago, the comparison proved interesting.

What stories do you have from your nations which demonstrate the power of forgiveness, or lack of it, in moving a nation towards transformation?

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2nd Photo credit: Dwelling via photopin (license)

This post first appeared on A Life Overseas, a community of missionaries and expats discussion life lived abroad. Join us!

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Chris

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A missionary teacher for 24 years currently living in South Africa. I am a recovering superhero, daily in need of the grace of God