‘Rwanda is coming under the fire of the Spirit’

‘Rwanda is coming under the fire of the Spirit’
The Archbishop of Rwanda talks about the genocide and his optimism for the future

By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

The Archbishop of Rwanda

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO (ANS) Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini, the head of the Anglican Church of Rwanda, has one of the most difficult jobs in the world.

For he has pledged himself to bringing healing to a country that in 1994 experienced the Rwandan Genocide, which saw the mass killing of hundreds of thousands of Rwanda’s minority Tutsis and the moderates of its Hutu majority.

The genocide was primarily perpetrated by two Hutu militias, the Interahamwe, the militant wing of the MRND, and the Impuzamugambi, the militant wing of the CDR. It was an eruption of the ethnic and economic pressures ultimately consequential after Rwanda’s colonial era and the fractious culture of Hutu power.

The Rwandan Civil War, fought between the Hutu regime with support from Francophone nations of Africa, as well as France itself, and rebel Tutsi exiles with support from Uganda, after their invasion in 1990, was its catalyst. With outside assistance, in 1993, the Hutu regime and Tutsi rebels were able to agree to a cease-fire, and the preliminary implementation of the Arusha Accords.

The diplomatic efforts to end the conflict were at first thought to be successful, yet even with the RPF, the political wing of the RPA, and the government in talks, elites among the Akazu were against any agreement for cooperation between the regime and the rebels to solve the ethnic and economic problems of Rwanda and progress towards a stable nationhood.

Now, thankfully, a relative piece has settled into the country and who better to talk about the situation but the Archbishop of Rwanda.

I caught up with him at the recent 17th International AIDS Conference in Mexico City, where he was a speaker at an event put during the conference by Rick and Kay Warren of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, who moderated a panel of Rwandan government and church leaders; business and medical experts; and Saddleback HIV/AIDS Initiative directors, to address the issue of global partnership ventures to help people living with HIV/AIDS.

I began by asking Archbishop Kolini to talk about the Rwandan genocide that so shocked the world.

“Well, let me say first of all I was not there at that time,” he began. “I was a bishop in the Congo, where I was born, but I was following the terrible events because I was a part of what was called the Francophone province which was comprised of three countries — Rwanda, Burundi and Congo. We had several meetings and I knew what was going on in Rwanda. It was terrible to me; it was a spiritual challenge.”

He then made the shocking admission that much of the killing was done by “nominal Christians.”

“Yes, they were nominal Christians,” he said. “When the war broke out, the church in Rwanda was at its infancy level. So they were busy baptizing, but discipleship was a challenge, which we are now doing.

“Much of the killings took place within families. Uncles killed a nephew, nephew killed an uncle. The aunties and even parents killed their own children and even children killed their parents.”

So it wasn’t just the Tutsis and Hutu who were fighting?

“Of course, there was much killing between the two groups, but there was also many mixed marriages and mixed blood, for a number of years,” he said. “To me, we all blame each other, but we forget that it was the devil behind it. So unless the devil is blamed and is challenged, genocide can take place in another form anywhere.”

I then asked the Archbishop how big the population was before the killings began.


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