God in the Public Domain

Life Giver, Protector or Indifferent Sleeper during the Rwandan Tragedies?

In: Exchange
Tharcisse Gatwa Protestant Institute of Arts and Social Sciences (PIASS)

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God has been very much present in public domain in the life of Rwandans. Every successful enterprise would lead Rwandans to pay tribute to God. At the end of every other failed try the Rwandan would say, ‘ahasigaye ni ah’Imana’ — I have done what I could, the rest belongs to God. His overwhelming presence was expressed in many ways including by theophoric names. This God celebrated by the triumphant ‘Christian kingdom’ came under fire attacks during the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, many of them being slaughtered in churches and public buildings. Had God, the life Giver and the protector, become a cynical destroyer, an executioner, or simply a sleeper who didn’t care for his creatures? Irrespective to these unanswered questions, the post 1994 genocide Rwandan religious era was imbued with another form of triumphalism, in which God was called, celebrated, and inaugurated as the One who showed the way to new charismatic movements to bring about a spiritual revolution in the country, whilst traditional Christianity remained ambivalent towards the moral guidance they were expected to provide. Yet many survivors continue to tell of their deception about such a ‘silent and cynical’ God, or at the best they wonder if their fate was sealed with His consent and that of His heralds on earth. This paper takes the view that religious competition and triumphalism of the clergy over crowds that continue to fill in areas of worship, amplified the feeling that God is still a very marketable good in Rwanda. And yet he never ran away from the victims of the tragedies.

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