Africa-Press – Rwanda. Leaders of faith-based organisations have praised the government’s decision to create a ministry in charge of National Unity and Civic Engagement. Jean-Damascène Bizimana was Monday, September 6 sworn in as the first person to head the ministry – about two months after the cabinet set up the institution.
Bizimana was the executive secretary of the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG) before his promotion last week. Clarisse Munezero is the Permanent Secretary of the newly created ministry.
Jeanette Tumusabe, a pastor at Eglise Vivante in Kicukiro District, Kigali, told The New Times that teaching unity is one of the fundamental roles of religious denominations and therefore the new ministry’s mandate is aligned with the role of the Church in society.
“Churches encourages people to be one; to be united,” she said, citing the scripture in the gospel of John chapter 17. “Love is the essence of the second commandment – love your neighbour as you love yourself. We are all called upon to love one another.”
Faith-based organisations have been instrumental in promoting reconciliation and healing since the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. John Rucyahana, the former bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Shyira and the Chairperson of the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission, underlined the importance of teaching Rwandan youth about the country’s heritage and values.
“Civic engagement involves everyone. It is critical to ensure that the youth understand the history and traditions of their country,” Rucyahana said.
He added: “The issue of unity and resolving conflict is something that faith-based organisations understand well, which is why the ministry will benefit immensely from working closely with religious organisations.” Helena Niyituliki, a nun with the Catholic Church, reckons the new ministry will work hand-in-hand with faith-based organisations.
“Unity and love are taught in every religion, whether Islam or Christianity, the establishment of the ministry is complementary to the teachings of faith-based organisations,” said Niyituliki, who is also the headmistress of Lycée Notre-Dame de Cîteaux, a girls school in the capital Kigali.
“The Genocide against the Tutsi was enabled by bad leadership, both in the government and the Church, which is another reason to why both sides should work together today to build a better society,” she added.
Sheikh Suleiman Mbarushimana, the spokesperson of the Rwanda Muslims Council, also welcomed the new ministry, saying it will offer appropriate guidance on the education of Rwandan history and values that should be passed down to younger generations.
“Unity should be every Rwandan’s goal,” Sheikh Mbarushimana said.