Civil Society Actors and NGO Workers’ Perception about Reconciliation in Rwanda

Start date: 21 May, 2013 End date: 22 June, 2013 Project type: Master's Thesis (prior to 2018) Project code: A22534 Countries: Rwanda Institutions: Aalborg University (AAU), Denmark Grant recipient: Marie Gaelle Stephanie Perrine and Anna Jenne Krey Total grant: 20,000 DKK


Abstract from Marie Gaelle Stephanie Perrine:

This thesis is the product of a month of field research including conducting interviews of 19 research participants working within the field of reconciliation in Rwanda. It is also the outcome of 8 months of desk research. The aim is to examine the process of reconciliation in Rwanda focusing on the perception of NGO workers and actors of Rwandan civil society. The core purpose was to understand reconciliation on a personal and pragmatic level while simultaneously placing the process in a national context and assessing the dynamics of political reconciliation. The findings are multifaceted and sometimes contradictory. Importantly, they suggest that reconciliation is human process and as such, it is flawed, mutable and difficult for those who undergo it. Reconciliation in Rwanda is composed of multi-layered dimensions, which is far more complex than some normative definitions capture. In order to unveil the level of complexity of the data, I use two major methodological tools, namely grounded theory and phenomenology and use their theoretical foundations to build the reasoning behind the thesis together with a nuance of post modernism reasoning. The thesis challenges the approach of isolating social problems from their contexts and instead proposes that in order to understand the nature and path of reconciliation today, it is essential to include number of (past and present) social conditions that are viewed to account for reconciliation in Rwanda today.


Abstract from Anna Jenne Krey:

The subject of the master thesis is the current situation in Rwanda, almost twenty years after the genocide in the country at which parts of the Hutu population killed approximately three quarters of the Tutsi. Having the genocide in mind, the question arises how people manage to live together side by side. The aim of this paper is to get an insight into Rwanda’s stage of reconciliation by looking at the Rwandan approach for sustainable peace and its implementation.
The objective of this study is to obtain a pragmatic picture of the reconciliation process in Rwanda. To approach this matter, Rwandan NGO workers were chosen as target group because of their dual role as facilitators and, at the same time, beneficiaries of reconciliation.
Interviews that were conducted with NGO workers in Rwanda provide the initial point of departure for the thesis in order to find out how Rwandan NGO workers, who are involved in reconciliation work, perceive the experience of living together and the process of reconciliation in post-genocide Rwanda. In the interviews, Grounded Theory and Phenomenology were used as a research approach, with the aim of acknowledging the significance of context to reconciliation. In this project, concepts and typologies of reconciliation were presented as well as criticism of the comprehensive literature on reconciliation in Rwanda. Subsequently, in the analysis the interview findings were examined and connected to the theoretical constructs and typologies, as well as comparisons were made with the outlined criticism. The results revealed that the interviewed NGO workers perceive reconciliation as an individual matter. Personal reconciliation is seen as most significant in order for overall reconciliation to happen while political reconciliation is mainly seen to be facilitating personal reconciliation. Forgiveness from both, the victims’ and the perpetrators’ side, is identified as an important tool towards the achievement of political reconciliation. The results revealed as well that the opinions of the NGO workers diverge in regard to the government’s approach to reconciliation. Additionally, it was found out that the NGO workers are frustrated, grounded in financial shortcomings of the NGOs. Furthermore, religion was identified as a factor of significance which is facilitating reconciliation on a spiritual level, with churches being a place to heal and providing a platform for dialogue. As additional supportive factors in the reconciliation process, poverty and development, trauma and the hardship of personal reconciliation were named by the interviewees, amongst others. Finally, the categories “victim” and “perpetrator” were identified as a delicate matter in this study. However, this aspect was not analysed and is recommended by the author to be studied in further research.