Friday, May 16, 2008

Reconciliation in Rwanda and "Peace Baskets"

Nonviolence can overturn dictators, but the hardest challenge is always what happens next. CNN recently had a story of forgiveness and moving forward between Hutu and Tutsis. The headline, "Woman opens heart to man who slaughtered her family" doesn't impart a sense of how reconciliation was accomplished, but the article reviews the horrific history through text and video. It is the third video of President Paul Kagame which summarizes how Rwanda moved beyond the 1994 genocide.

For these families, the gacaca process of public confession and asking for forgiveness, coupled with a basket business bringing people together, is helping to heal. The "peace baskets" are sold by Macy's.

Ladies in White: What to do Next?

Listen to a recent NPR piece about the Ladies in White, who for five years have been protesting their dissident husbands' detention. The Ladies gather to pray, then silently march carrying gladiola's, and have done so weekly for five years. In 2005, they were awarded the Sakhavrov Prize for Freedom of Thought.

The question is now whether or not the Ladies should escalate and how. What is the most effective way to move a dictator in this cultural context?

Photo by Mihai Romanciuc