The second week of the PBI focus on Good Governance, Development, and Reconciliation. Each of these has been critical for Rwanda’s progress since 1994. Participants visit Rwanda’s scenic Southern Province for site visits to a unity and reconciliation association, the Murambi Genocide Memorial, and the King’s Palace. Back in Kigali, participants visit the Rwanda Governance Board and the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission.
In Nyanza, participants visit the former residence of King Mutara III Rudahigwa. Now a museum, the King’s Palace presents aspects of Rwandan history before and during colonization.
The museum is made of traditional materials and the grounds are home to some traditional long-horned cows which are a central feature of Rwandan history.
Participants with interests in history and anthropology enjoy this visit in particular.
Visiting the National Museum of Rwanda gives participants an understanding of how development has changed the country.
The museum displays artifacts of traditional Rwandan life, from farming tools to historical dress to military weapons.
The site also hosts a training program for making mats and baskets as part of its commitment to development.
Participants are invited to join and watch traditional dance as well as having fun while learning some new skills.
Many PBI site visits demonstrate how Rwanda has taken an innovative approach to post-genocide reconciliation.
For example, some survivors of genocide live alongside perpetrators in unity and reconciliation villages.
Participants get a firsthand look at reconciliation during a site visit to one of these associations at Abasangirangendo.
Here, survivors and perpetrators live and work together in order to support one another’s development and to foster understanding.
The most emotional site visit of the PBI was to the genocide memorial at Murambi, where some bodies of genocide victims are mummified where they were found at the former vocational school. Previous Participants were shocked to learn many more bodies had been discovered in a mass grave under a site where French troops had built a volleyball court. This memorial highlights some of the most disturbing realties of history in Rwanda, in contrast to the other site visits in the southern province.
One participant remarked, “The Butare events were life changing! The memorial was a serious visit and the national museum was interesting. The reconciliation association was such an amazing opportunity.”
Through the stories of two genocide survivors, the documentary As We Forgive explores the use of forgiveness in the reconciliation process. The film sparked many discussions on the nature of forgiveness and its nuances. Participants debated the meaning of forgiveness, and whether it is possible to give forgiveness to those who have not asked for it. PBI participants vary not only in nationality, but also religious views toward ideas such as forgiveness and grace.
Much of Rwanda’s success in the past twenty years can be attributed to the implementation of home-grown initiatives, many of which were discussed at a visit to the Rwanda Governance Board. Dr. Felicien Usengumukiza, Head of Research and Monitoring at RGB, explained these initiatives and how other governments may learn from them. Through the PBI, participants learn that methods of good governance and reconciliation depend on the culture and circumstances in a given country. Participants from different countries learn from one another as they compare how governance works in their home.
PBI 2015 wrapped up with a focus on Reconciliation. Participants visited the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission in order to gain perspective on the successes and challenges of reconciliation in post-genocide Rwanda. NURC Division Manager Johnson Mugaga explained some of the difficulties associated with changing the image of Rwanda after 1994. Despite its many challenges, NURC believes reconciliation is a cornerstone to all national development efforts and a basis for combating all forms of discrimination and exclusion among Rwandans.
After the visit, Rwandan participant Emmanuel Twagirimana remarked,
“Usually it is impossible to give justice and then reconcile. But through home grown solutions, reconciliation is growing bigger and bigger.”
Betty Mutesi introduced participants to the world café method of learning for the final group discussion and presentation session. This approach allows participants to discuss the successes and challenges of a practice in a certain country, in this case, governance in the US and Rwanda. Groups then compare their findings and contrast with an ideal world perspective. At this point in the PBI, participants felt comfortable discussing with authority their opinions on governance in different places, as well as their ideas for improvement.
In order to complement fully their Rwandan experience, some participants spent the last day of PBI doing umuganda. Community members join together in service on the last Saturday of every month in Rwanda in order to meet needs such as waste management or home building; they also meet as a community after the work to discuss local issues. This is one of the many home-grown solutions for unity and reconciliation which were discussed during the PBI. After two weeks, all participants felt a sense of “Rwandaness” and a desire to give back in the city.
“I have learned a lot about how policies can shape the attitude and spirit of a whole community.”
“Good governance must focus on the equality of all citizens, providing equal opportunities, and calling accountability.”
“Good governance is made by accountability and hard work, reconciliation and healing go hand in hand.”