April 13th, 2014
07:25 AM ET
Forgiving the unforgivable in Rwanda
By Tim Townsend, special to CNN
(CNN) - When the killing began in earnest, Steven Gahigi fled his home in the Bugesera district of Rwanda to neighboring Burundi.
By the time he returned the next year, 52 members of his family were dead. Most of them, including his sister, were slaughtered in the first week of the 20th century’s final genocide.
This week, Rwanda began commemorating the 20 years that have passed since the mass murder of Tutsis and moderate Hutus, which continued for 100 days and left at least 800,000 dead.
Gathering in a packed soccer stadium in Kigali, Rwandans re-enacted the horrific events of 1994. President Paul Kagame said his country had “a reason to celebrate the normal moments of life, that are easy for others to take for granted."
When Gahigi returned to Rwanda after the genocide, he had nothing: no family, no home. Eventually, he moved past his anger and entered a Christian seminary.
In 1999, he began visiting Rilima Prison in Bugesera, the new home to thousands of the génocidaires, the men who wielded the machetes. In Rilima he met the band of 15 who killed his sister.
At first, the prisoners thought he had been sent by the government – a spy in a clerical collar – to investigate their crimes. Even when they were satisfied that Gahigi wasn’t a spy, they were skeptical of his motives. Why would this man come to their prison to preach when he knew what they had done?
November 7th, 2011
12:13 PM ET
My Take: If Rwandans can forgive killings, we can forgive the waitress
Editor’s note: Jeremy Cowart is a Los Angeles-based celebrity portrait photographer and founder of Help-Portrait, a global movement of photographers giving free portraits to those in need. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.
By Jeremy Cowart, Special to CNN
Would you forgive the bully that tripped you in 3rd grade? What about the terrible service from that lazy waitress? Or the guy who cut you off on the interstate?
What about the man who murdered your children? If he asked you for forgiveness, would you grant it? Would you agree to spend time with him – maybe one day call him your friend?
About this blog
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.