Original Research - Special Collection: Engaging Development

‘Confession’ and ‘Forgiveness’ as a strategy for development in post-genocide Rwanda

Anne Kubai
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 72, No 4 | a3562 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v72i4.3562 | © 2016 Anne Kubai | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 10 June 2016 | Published: 25 November 2016

About the author(s)

Anne Kubai, Faculty of Theology, Uppsala University, Sweden


The government of Rwanda has pursued reconciliation with great determination in the belief that it is the only moral alternative to post-genocide social challenges. In Rwanda, communities must be mobilised and reshaped for social, political and economic reconstruction. This creates a rather delicate situation. Among other strategies, the state has turned to the concepts of confession and forgiveness which have deep religious roots, and systematised them both at the individual and community or state level in order to bring about reconciliation, justice, social cohesion and ultimately economic development. In view of these strategies and challenges, some of the important questions are: Does forgiveness restore victims and empower them to heal their communities? What empirical evidence exists that religiously inspired justice and reconciliation processes after mass political violence make a difference? In what areas might the understanding of religious thought and activity towards transitional justice be deepened? These questions provide the backdrop against which I examine the case of post-genocide Rwanda in this article. A hermeneutic interpretative analysis is used to situate the phenomena of forgiveness, confession and social transformation within the specific context of post-conflict societies.


Rwanda genocide; Reconciliation; confession; forgiveness; transitional justice; development


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1. Forgiveness as a spiritual construct experienced by men serving long-term sentences in Zonderwater, South Africa
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HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies  vol: 76  issue: 4  year: 2020  
doi: 10.4102/hts.v76i4.6276