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Your location>Home>Publications>PeaceWays>Fall 2009

   
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Editorial Comment

Why We Should “Love Thy Neighbor”
By Angela Forcier

Why I Do What I Do: Life in Bududa, Uganda
By Barbara Wybar

HROC and the Batwa Ethnic Group in Rwanda
By Theoneste Bizimana

Living Abundantly
By Deborah Dakin

A Bumpy Road to Mediation By George Brose

Applying These Teachings: Testimonies from Congo
By Zawadi Nikuze

Reconciliation?
By David Zarembka

Reaching a Common Reconciliation
By Adrien Niyongabo

Welcome Back
By Dorcas Nyambura

 

 

HROC and the Batwa Ethnic Group in Rwanda
By Theoneste Bizimana

Theoneste Bizimana is the coordinator of the HROC program in Rwanda. Recently the program has been concentrating on the ostracized Twa group.

The Twa are the smallest of the three ethnic groups in Rwanda (Hutu, Tutsi and Twa). You may know them by the name “Pygmy.” Twa are also known by another name, “abasizwe inyuma n’amateka,” which translates as “people whom history has left behind”. This can be understood to mean they have been forgotten. During the genocide in 1994 some were implicated in the killings and some were killed, but they are rarely recognized in relation to the consequences of the genocide. Since this group has been ignored by Rwandan society on the whole, they have lived independently from other communities, believing no good could come from living among other Rwandans. At times, they have even gone so far as to not even consider themselves Rwandan. As a result they live in villages inhabited only by Twa. They don’t send their children to school (and there are no schools near where they live), and they do not participate in any government activity. Although identification as Hutu or Tutsi has been eliminated under the Rwandan Government's program of unity and reconciliation, the term “Twa” is still in common usage, along with the many stereotypes associated with it. Being marginalized in society, and as victims of the genocide, they are a highly vulnerable population.

To help the Twa deal with these consequences and to recognize their rights as Rwandans, since 2003, HROC has been working closely with them by drawing them out of their isolation and beginning to connect them with others. The main objective of HROC is to help people to heal and to build relationships in order to create sustainable peace. This general peace must come from the effort of everyone in Rwanda. The Twa need healing and a sense of belonging, which can encourage their positive participation in the country around them. By including everyone in the process of building peace, we are confident we will reach our objective.
Joseph Kanira is a HROC facilitator who has provided a lot of help in introducing HROC to his Twa community. I talked with him in order to know why HROC is important to his population and he shared this information:

-HROC has increased awareness and understanding of the concept of trauma and trust among Twa.

-HROC has established a basic lasting relationship between Twa and other ethnic groups.

-Many people have started to recognize their rights as humans and as citizens of Rwanda, and to participate in trauma healing, reconciliation processes and development in the broader community. They no longer stand or sit close to the road begging. They now work for their families and they have started sending their kids to school. They always say that HROC has set them free.

-The local authorities are thankful of what HROC has done in their cells and sectors [local government administrative units]. Before HROC, if they called for a meeting or any other community activity, Twa would not come – but today, those who attended the HROC workshops are the first ones to participate in any government activity.

Though a step has been taken, the way is still long. Those who have attended, request more workshops and it is the wish of Joseph Kanira that every person could be reached by HROC.

In the future, we intend to conduct more basic trainings with only Twa. Then as a further step toward building their relationships based on full trust, more advanced workshops that will bring Twa together with Hutu/Tutsi who have also participated in a basic workshop.

Next article: Living Abundantly By Deborah Dakin