April 17, 2024

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Genocide Scars: Father Ubald recommends Tête-à-tête conversation as a Cure

Father Ubald was ordained a Catholic priest in the Cyangugu Diocese of Rwanda in 1984. He is a Survivor of the 1994 Genocide Against Tutsis

When we talk about Father Ubald Rugirangoga, immediately what comes in our minds are the yearly healing prayer and the reconciliation preaching between Genocide perpetrators and the survivors of this inhumane act that caused the death of more than one million Tutsis killed in a hundred days from the month of April in 1994 up to July when soldiers of the Former Rwanda Patriotic Army put an end to that Ethnic cleansing.

It is in Mushaka Parish in the Diocese of Cyangugu, in the Western Part of Rwanda where Father Ubald Rugirangoga started the journey to helping Rwandans to reconcile by encouraging those who committed Genocide to ask for forgiveness as well as encouraging the survivors to forgive perpetrators in order to build a united homeland as well as rebuilding a true Christianity because, for Ubald, “A true Christian didn’t commit Genocide, those who committed the Genocide are people who were only ritualistically baptized but not real Christians. A real Christian doesn’t kill”

Rwandan authorities and many of the Genocide survivors have for a long time accused the Catholic Church to have played a role in the execution of the 1994 Genocide against Tutsis.

There had been many testimonies pointing to church members, among them there are also priests and other high personalities of the Church who contributed to massacres of Tutsis who were seeking sanctuary in churches’ premises.

In the early days it was difficult to convince this very strong Church to accept its role in the Genocide until recently in the year 2017, when Pope Francis apologized for the role of the church in the 1994 Genocide against Tutsis.

For Father Ubald, whose name is well known in the route to the reconciliation among Rwandans, “It is very shocking to find that there was any parish in Rwanda where the Tutsi were not killed.”

Ubald, who was leading a prayer at the Amahoro stadium organized by Regina Pacis Parish in collaboration with the Ministry of Sports and Culture as part of the commemoration of the Genocide against Tutsis, used an example from his native parish of Mushaka where one day, he was preaching abou reconciliation and at that time, the Father, said, he was happy believing that “No Tutsi were killed in his Parish.”

But “In the time I was saying that a young man raised up his hand and he said “Father, although you are saying that there was no one who was killed in this area, I remember a slain body I saw near the river where I was going to fetch water.”

“Do you know what happened at that time when I was preaching?” continues Father Ubald “We all started asking this boy: “Where did you find the body? Was the body at our side (Mushaka Parish side) or was it to the other side of the river?” (Let us say in the other Parish)

Here, they were trying to dissociate themselves from this body. “However, the boy said” I saw it was on our side (in Mushaka Parish)”

The Father used that example to explain to those attending the preaching session that “There is no parish in Rwanda where Tutsis were not killed, Tutsis were killed in all the Parishes of Rwanda “.

This example conveyed a clear message to Catholic Christians and even members of other churches who were also present in the commemorative prayer of this Sunday of 15th of April, 2018.

Father Ubald showed that all Rwandans have genocide-related injuries/scars.

He explained that those who committed Genocide have wounds of what they did.

The survivors of Genocide have wounds of what Genocide perpetrators did to them. Young people and children have wounds/scars also resulting from the Genocide.

That’s why he encourages Christians, either Catholic, or from the other beliefs that a real cure for these wounds is in “An open tête-à-tête conversation between Rwandans” and that it is a good way to share experiences of what people went through leading to the demand for forgiveness and forgiving towards the true reconciliation.

In a simple sentence but very metaphoric, Ubald used another example of Two Keys. One to open the room of forgiveness and the other one to open the room of requesting for forgiveness.

“Let’s think that someone has a fight in his Heart wondering how he will ask for forgiveness and you too you are fighting a fight of waiting for someone to come to you for forgiveness, you both have injuries. Wounds to forgive and Wounds to be forgiven “He tried to explain.

If it’s like that “You who want forgiveness, close your chamber with your forgiveness asking key, bring that key and give it to the one who wants to forgive, he too will give you the forgiving key. Open her/his room (Forgiveness room) and he/she too open your room, the real pardon is those keys”

It means that if you forgive, openly forgive and ask for forgiveness openly.

At the end of the mass different people took a decision to forgive those who have the wounds of asking for forgiveness and even to those who have not yet asked that they have decided to forgive them.

The Minister of Sports and Culture, Uwacu Julienne, who was the guest of honor and representative of the Rwandan Government, told the Christians who were attentive that” the true Christianity must begin first by being Rwandan.”

“It can be very shocking to remember the death of Jesus Christ that you have never seen with your eyes and forget your neighbor killed in circumstances similar to the death of Jesus,” said Minister Uwacu.

Since 7 April 2018 Rwanda is in a period of 100 days observing the 100 days of Genocide against Tutsis.

During this period, various commemoration activities are organized throughout the country.

It is also time to support and comfort survivors of the genocide and continue with various activities related to the commemoration of the genocide throughout the country and outside the country.

This year’s commemoration activities are held under the theme “Twibuke Twiyubaka”

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