Reflections of Rwanda

30 November 2003

KIGALI, Rwanda — Baha'is from different ethnic groups joined together in unity at a meeting here where they reviewed the achievements of their community and made plans for the future.

The Baha'is were participating in a "reflection meeting" -- now an increasingly common practice in Baha'i communities worldwide.

Songs and traditional dances contributed to the meeting, which was held on 30 November 2003. Sixty participants attended, half of whom were youth. They came from different sectors of the community.

A Baha'i spokesperson said that unity is a Baha'i ideal, and the Baha'is identify themselves as Rwandans first, instead of as belong to a particular ethnic group like Hutu or Tutsi.

"So in the Baha'i meetings everybody is seen as a brother or a sister, without emphasizing the differences," the spokesperson said.

The reflection meeting was the third held in the Kigali cluster of communities, which comprises five Local Spiritual Assemblies.

The participants studied, "Building Momentum," a publication produced at the Baha'i World Centre, which gives guidance in the administrative and capacity-building methods being used to advance the process of wide expansion of the Faith.

4 images
Baha'is in Kigali, Rwanda, participate in a study circle.

Baha'is are following advice from the international governing council, the Universal House of Justice, to focus on three core activities: study circles, children's classes and devotional meetings, all of which are open to participation from those in the wider society.

In the Kigali cluster there are six regular study circles, -- which are aimed at developing spiritual insights, knowledge and skills -- five children's classes and nine devotional meetings.

The participants at the reflection meeting made a plan to multiply those activities.

In 1994 in Rwanda, widespread violence resulted in the deaths of some 800,000 people.

In March 2000, as the country struggled to create unity and rebuild trust between the ethnic groups, the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Rwanda issued a statement to the National Commission for Unity and Reconciliation urging consideration of the principle of oneness of humanity as a basis for reconciliation in the country.

"Baha'is believe that humankind has always constituted one species, but that prejudice, ignorance, power seeking, and egotism have prevented many people from recognizing and accepting this oneness," said the National Spiritual Assembly, urging the adoption of a program for moral education that would seek both to abolish prejudices and to foster social and economic development.