Reconciliation; What Can Zimbabwe Learn From Rwanda?

Grief can lead to creativity positive or negative. Indeed, reconciliation is key in genuine healing.

Loss and creativity are two essential parts of the human experience, and when we experience loss personally and as a nation, creativity might just be the best way out.

However, for some that grieving period can become the bedrock of evil and negative energy. A number of African countries have seen a lot with regards loss of life. A number of factors have brought about untold suffering and grief from politically motivated killings, criminal activities, xenophobia and tribalism the list goes on and on.

Perhaps the first thing to keep in mind is that everyone has the capacity to be creative. Some just express it more robustly, and as nations we react and respond differently. For some, grief sparks creativity in the most positive of ways, while, on the other hand, some get energised to organise evil recriminations.

With regards creativity they are two types of creativity: innovative creativity and expressive creativity.

“innovative creativity” is best suited to problem-solving, while “expressive creativity” can use negative energy and channel it into creative work as a means to assist with loss or trauma. However if expressive creativity goes unchecked it can spiral out of control and lead to evil deeds, such as revenge.

The nation of Rwanda is great example of a people devastated by grief but somehow they have managed to put a positive turn on that national grief into positive energy that has allowed economic growth for the country.

Twenty-four years after the Rwandan genocide that killed over 1 million people, Rwanda has risen from a devastated nation to what is seen as a “model and miracle” of development today. While grief is a natural and unavoidable part of the human experience, indeed, there is such a thing as “healthy mourning.”

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It is however, unfortunate that in some nations room for ‘healthy mourning’ is somewhat restricted. Mostly because those that cause the grief do not acknowledge that they are causing unnecessary grief and instead of apologising and allowing for healing they add more grief.

The Zimbabwean government comes to mind the grief brought to the nation by corruption and misappropriation of national resources and fanning of tribal divisions is compounded by the repression of the rights of citizens and made worse by state sponsored abductions and disappearances of ordinary citizens who voice or express their grief. One wonders why the government feels threatened by citizens expressing their grief?

In fact, viewing mourning as an opportunity for personal growth can lead to boosted creativity and a renewed sense of purpose, When you open up mourning from the deep core of the self, not only is it extremely healing but also people can become more authentic and express themselves in a deeper way. They just become more compassionate human beings and can become more compassionate toward themselves—not just others.

Research shows that the mere expression of emotion in artistic form when you are hurting is beneficial. However, this can be dangerous in places like Zimbabwe where comedians such as those from ‘BustopTV’ have witnessed in the recent past.

One word that is meaninglessly thrown about in most repressive countries is ‘reconciliation’ however, if properly understood it can be a powerful platform and way to allow people to mourn heal. Through a proper process of reconciliation a people, a nation can draw strength from grief and become creative. A nation can bounce back to economic growth and prosperity.

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Going back to the example of Rwanda we see how they have embraced and implemented the reconciliation process. When the Tutsi-led rebel force Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) defeated genocidal regime and took power in 1994, it did not implement revenge policy but took the view that all Rwandan people are one nation.

The 1994’s Rwanda genocide claimed over 1 million lives, mostly ethnic Tutsis. After ending the genocide, RPF formed a coalition government, which brought parties that did not participate in the genocide together, and started the journey of reconstruction and reconciliation.

Rwanda’s reconciliation status is at 92.5 percent, up from 82.3 percent of five years before, according to Rwanda Reconciliation Barometer released in 2016 by Rwanda’s National Unity and Reconciliation Commission. Indeed, Rwanda has made enormous strides towards reconciliation, which is a very big step for the country, because it brought unity and it really cleaned out the differences of tribal instincts in the Rwandan people.

The government have initiated programs like “Kwibuka”, an annual commemoration of the 1994’s genocide. It has also adopted a policy of single national identity. Citizens are registered simply as Rwandans, with no ethnic or tribal references any more on their identification papers.

But once the day of mourning for what might have been ends, we stop “crying over spilled milk” and go out to fill the bottle. There’s still time for us as a nation to increase our knowledge and for our children to take advantage of the opportunities we missed.

In the collective arena, most of us find it difficult to identify with the grief that poverty and corruption has dealt on the most vulnerable in our nation those without any source of income. Unlike them, we have a source of income and position through our status as citizens of other countries. But if we step back from our seemingly secure position, we realize that we still lack much of what they mourned. We have not eliminated political persecution, corruption from Zimbabwe or established the universal peace that guarantees a life of dignity, self-sufficiency, and mutual respect for all; we have not effected a spiritual reconciliation to accompany our renewed sovereignty over the Land, nor have we been able to achieve true unity — regardless of the party political slogans (“Pamberi nekubatana – – -Pambili lokubambana”) –‘Unity is number one’- and other such themes that have been proclaimed through songs.

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These deficits provide national goals for us all to ponder and introspection, and they have local communal implications.

The question is can Zimbabwe learn anything from?