Disappointed, But Still Standing: A Word of Hope for Rwandans

"Welcome", is about slavery, repression and human rights abuses. Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. Photo taken on August 21, 2011

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On November 13, 2016, I attended a Christian church fellowship in Brooklyn, New York,  at the Brown Memorial Baptist Church. Brown Memorial Baptist Church, that is celebrating 100 year-anniversary of its creation, has played a key role in the American Civil Rights movement. Along with others from major African-American churches, such as the South Carolina Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church (see here), the Church leaders and members rallied, comforted, and gave hope to millions of African-Americans and minorities and served as a pillar of strength to lean on during trying times.


The message throughout the Civil Rights struggle, as recapped by Reverend Clinton M. Miller during the November 13, 2016 sermon, could be summarized as follows:  "African-Americans overcame so many trials and tribulations over the ages, from their abduction from African shores and inlands to current moments. They faced so many disappointments, yet they are still standing!"

In fact, Black Americans went through so much: abducted from their homelands in Africa, held in dungeons on the shores of Africa, chained and transported as a discardable cargo across the Atlantic Ocean, raped,  sold as commodity items in auctions, starved, worked to death in fields, hanged, lynched, used in wars, segregated against, shot, assembled in ghettos, cramped in prisons, and the list goes  on.

But we also know  that they are still there. Black Americans are still standing. The first African American president is ending a two-term presidency as one of the best presidents in American history. Throughout the history, African-Americans were disappointed. But, they are still standing!

The message has resonated with me, since. In these last days, and as, here in the US, we are entering the holiday season,  I could not help myself but connecting it to the situation in Rwanda, prevailing now and has been throughout the ages. Rwandans have gone  through so much, as far as one can trace the roots of the nation: servitude, tribal divisions, colonization, revolutions, systematic repressions, dictatorships, tyrannies, interethnic massacres, exiles, wars, systematic massacres. The trials and tribulations experienced by Rwandans may,  at times, seem endless. Yet, Rwandans are still standing! 

Sometimes we think about our loved ones, relatives, friends and compatriots , who have fallen, have been abducted inside and outside Rwanda, falsely accused of crimes, handcuffed, and handed to torturers,  are held in dungeons,  are persecuted, are made permanent refugees, are summarily executed,are assassinated inside and outside Rwanda, or are banned from their or their parents’ and forefathers’ homelands. At the same time we realize that those who are responsible for these abominable acts appear to prosper out of the tragedies. 

We may be tempted to give up, to give in or to think that life is not fair. But remember this: We have been disappointed over and over again, but yet, we, as a people, are still standing. You, Rwandan, reading this word, are still standing!

That is why we cannot give up on Rwanda and our people. We need to continue on our road to the peaceful transformation of Rwanda. We need to continue to show those who persecute, kill, abduct, corrupt, harass, repress, torture, dictate, assassinate, falsely accuse, or attempt to ban us from our homeland that we will not give up on our aspirations for a peaceful transformation; that we will not succumb to their desires for destruction and perpetual tragedies.

Those who are Christians or believers may be reminded that God works in multiple ways.  The message well captured by one of the greatest American singers and actors, Elvis Aron Presley, in his  Farther Along lyrics, now sung as a  Baptist Hymn, summarizes it well:


Tempted and tried we're oft made to wonder;

Why it should be thus all the day long;

While there are others living about us;

Never molested though in the wrong.


Farther along we'll know all about it;

Farther along we'll understand why;

Cheer up my brother live in the sunshine;

We'll understand it all by and by.


When death has come and taken our loved ones;

It leaves our home so lonely and drear;

And then do we wonder why others prosper;

Living so wicked year after year.


When we see Jesus coming in glory;

When he comes down from his home in the sky;

Then we shall meet him in that bright mansion;

We'll understand it all by and by.


Farther along we'll know all about it;

Farther along we'll understand why;

Cheer up my brother live in the sunshine;

We'll understand it all by and by.


Yeah we'll understand it all by and by.


Written by Elvis Presley • Copyright © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, Imagem Music Inc


Felicien Kanyamibwa, PhD.

New Jersey, United States of America

November 25, 2016.