Recently, we visited the museum for the Campaign Against the Genocide. We did this in preparation for a conversation about colonialism and our place in it at missionaries in Africa.
Colonialism is such a struggle in my own narrative because I hold identities of both sides. It is fair to say that I may not exist if colonialism didn’t.
Bangladesh was colonized, along with India and Pakistan, by the British. When England left the sub-Asian continent, they allowed for the partition of the colonized area into 3 arbitrary sections, many times drawing lines down the middle of communities and even homes. The violence that broke out as a result was devastating. Even after the violence subsided, the relations between the three sections, India and East and West Pakistan, were tense. This tension was reignited when East Pakistan tried to become an independent nation. West Pakistan proceeded to commit genocide against Bangladeshis for their language and culture.
Like Rwanda, Bangladesh was liberated as a product of the Genocide. Also like Rwanda, the international community failed to intervene and may have even aided the side perpetrating the genocide. So, half of my story is colonized. The other half was, is, and will most likely continue to be colonizer.
Colonizer has taken on a whole new meaning in today’s world (thanks Black Panther). But the U.S. continues to maintain colonies and enforce its rule on sovereign nations that it should have no claim to.
So, what is my role. Is it enough to be non-colonial in a world that needs anti-colonialism. Is it okay to pat myself on the back because I’m not coming from a country that had an active role in supporting genocidiares, even though we passively supported them with our inaction? Am I allowed to be critical of French participation while also being aware that the U.S. supports Israel, seeded the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, the rebels of Syria and many more that I may not even know about? Who am I betraying, knowing that forces backed by the country I must claim are responsible for the deaths of people in a country from which I get the largest chunk of my heritage?
I hope to focus on what I can do in a year. I believe my calling is to humbly bear witness to the way Rwanda exists in a global community. I will do this first by building relationships with people so we can share experiences across cultures. Secondly, I hope to work actively to faithfully support the initiatives of the Lutheran Church of Rwanda. And finally, I hope to work on translating my experiences back to the communities I am coming from while I am here and when I return home. My challenge and hope will be to educate myself consistently through literature, conversation, and observation about how colonialism functions so I may start my work in becoming anti-colonial. May mother God, the powers of the Universe, and those who have gone before me guide me through the journey ahead.