Christ Walks Where Evil Reigned: Responding to the Rwandan Genocide
Emmanuel M. Kolini and Peter R. Holmes
Authentic Publishing (2007)
Reviewed by Dr. Michael Philliber for Reader Views (6/08)
There are many pieces to the puzzling and impious genocide that happened in Rwanda in 1994. The scars, guilt and anger run deep, flowing into a new generation. In an attempt to establish an important remedy, Emmanuel Kolini, Anglican Archbishop of Rwanda, and Peter Holmes have teamed up to write “Christ Walks Where Evil Reigned: Responding to the Rwandan Genocide.” This short, 196-page manual describes several of the reasons for the genocide, the ongoing consequences of it, and a multifaceted approach to bring about substantive healing to the nation.
The first half of “Christ walks Where Evil Reigned” takes up the hard, disquieting task of sketching the social history of Rwanda, and the background to the genocide. The authors show how the initial distinctions between Hutu and Tutsi are historically economic rather than primarily ethnic. They then depict the way in which the colonial powers capitalized on these distinctions to divide and conquer the nation, through the Church, the Schools and politics. Once the colonial powers succeeded in this divide-to-conquer program an earlier smaller scale genocide erupted there in 1959. But time didn’t heal the wounds. Instead the division continued to fester and swell, until the horrible 100-day massacre exploded in April 1994.
The next quarter of the book explains the long-term traumatized repercussions of the genocide. Thousands upon thousands of women intentionally infected with HIV from multiple rapes; children with no parents and no communal identity, who don’t even know their date of birth and age because no one is left alive who remembers when they were born; long-term economic ramifications; nation-wide grief, guilt, post-traumatic stress, seething hatred boiling under the surface, lostness, and the list continues to expand.
But “Christ Walks Where Evil Reigned” doesn’t end on a note of despair. The last quarter of the book is an attempt to map out the various ways to initiate healing, politically, educationally, and ecclesiastically. The solutions which Archbishop Kolini and Dr. Holmes offer endeavor to be broadly encompassing, though their proffered programs for recovery are only the first step in a long process.
“Christ Walks Where Evil Reigned” is a disturbing book, because the horror of the 1994 genocide was a disturbing instance of the destructive collusion of colonial imperialism, ethnic tension, multi-generational hateful propaganda and weak ecclesiastical leadership. This is indispensable reading for anyone troubled by the ethnic violence and cleansings of the past several generations in the world. And this book is a significant reminder that Christ can walk where evil once reigned.