Peer-Reviewed Journal Details
Mandatory Fields
Caroline Williamson
Journal of Genocide Research
Genocide, masculinity and posttraumatic growth in Rwanda: reconstructing male identity through ndi umunyarwanda
Optional Fields
While the experiences of Rwandan women during and after the 1994 genocide have been studied quite extensively, little attention has been paid to the lives of men. Through an analysis of their testimonies, this article explores how Tutsi men experienced the 1994 genocide and how it has affected their identities. The analysis identifies three time periods where different versions of masculinity are expressed: the early stages of the genocide, where a predominantly warrior/military identity persisted; later stages of the genocide, during which men became aware of their vulnerability and the extent of the genocide; and the post-genocide period, in which masculinity has been rebuilt through the ideology of ndi umunyarwanda, the notion of Rwandanness or Rwandicity. Post-genocide male identity draws heavily on precolonial military values such as patriotism, dignity, unity and the importance of a strong army; however, the idealism of warriorhood has been lost. The emphasis of masculinity post-1994 appears to be on a shared culture and language and collectively working for one's country, not fighting for it. Indeed, there appears to be a complete aversion to violence of any kind, which, it is argued, is a form of posttraumatic growth. Another positive aspect of the change in male identity is the rejection of former colonial influences and their ideas in exchange for more authentic cultural expression and self-acceptance. The form of ndi umunyarwanda adopted by the men in this study is distinct from the government's version of this ideology, however, as these men reject the idea of forced apologies and reconciliation. In light of these findings, the article discusses the practical implications for those engaged in social work with survivors, and also calls for a more nuanced discussion of post-genocide Rwanda and the concept of Rwandicity.
Grant Details