Sunday, March 4, 2012


When visitors to Rwanda have a moment of quiet can­dor one question frequently rises, “Why does Rwanda so polar­ize people?”

Dave Jenkins

Those who blog about Rwanda leave little middle ground. They tend to be either Rwanda haters or lovers. Media establishments from both our region and around the world are no different. They seem to either seek salvation through Rwanda’s leaders, or conclude that Rwanda’s leaders are diabolical schemers.

What if the reason Rwanda is so po­larizing has something to do with the oldest natural inclinations of human­ity? What if Rwanda exposes our fail­ings, and in the process we polarize? What if in our desperation we seek ei­ther a hero to emulate or a villain to blame (and in the process avoid per­sonal responsibility)? What if Rwan­da’s contemporary voices are much like those of old called prophets (those with profound moral insight and ex­ceptional powers of expression)?

Four old voices quickly come to mind – Daniel, Shadrach; Meshach, and Abednego. The first descrip­tion of them were “young men with­out any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to un­derstand, and qualified to serve…” They knew their mother tongue, but also the language and literature of the Babylonians. They received the best of the world’s education for three years. Whether in exile or in study they were 10 times more effective than the locals. Then they were entrusted with public civil service. Does this not sound like the both loved and hated Rwandese? Handsome, beautiful, intelligent, quick witted, multi-cultural, and well educated? Just those attributes alone will stir either esteem or jealousy.

When those attributes swing into action the results are polarizing. Our well managed technological world is still full of mystery. When we are so close to a situation that everything is comfortable we miss the ability to conceptualize ultimate reality. Para­doxically, if we don’t understand con­text we also misunderstand. Thus our best understandings come from this strange place of both outsider and in­sider. Approximately, 2,600 years ago only Daniel could explain King Nebu­chadnezzar’s dreams. He gave glory to God for his insight, and God nur­tured that insight through years of ex­ile, study, and service.

Today, Rwanda’s seemingly small voice speaks with moral authority to world powers. Her place as both an insider and an outsider gives great in­sight. Many of us who cheer for Rwan­da giggle as her leaders have the cour­age to twit back to those who think they are morally superior. Some of us from outside Rwanda wish someone from our home nation would com­municate in such ways. For the wise these Rwanda insights are deeply de­sired. Maybe, this is one of the rea­sons Rwanda’s outside voice to world powers is so polarizing?

However, those vary traits, expe­riences, and insights which inspire also place the messengers in both fi­ery furnaces and lion’s dens. King Ne­buchadnezzar loved Daniel’s insight when it stroked his ego. King Ne­buchadnezzar’s ego was his master. Daniel was only a person to be used at King Nebuchadnezzar’s convenience. Shortly after marveling at Daniel’s wisdom King Nebuchadnezzar had the audacity to build a 30 meter statue of himself and command the world to worship his image. Three brave Jew­ish youthful leaders – Shadrach, Me­shach, and Abednego – refused to give any man such honor. They considered their faith and integrity far more im­portant than the favor of man or their powerful positions. The result was a true trial by fire.

Rwanda’s outside and inside voice also invites rage for just such reasons. The powerful throughout time desire the status of gods. Prophets know their own failings well. Thus they ha­bitually point to God and their com­munity when honor is given to them. These prophets also revel in truth. Truth is costly and invites jealous crit­icism. Thankfully, history shows truth is worth the cost and prevails. For King Nebuchadnezzar his pride led to madness and a collapsed kingdom.

Why does Rwanda stir such polar­ization? Maybe, it is because Rwanda represents in appearance, experience, words, and deeds history’s most in­sightful and courageous prophets?

No comments:

Post a Comment