Peacebuilders in Kigali have been using the Muse Conversation as part of their activities to bring communities together in Rwanda and between Rwandans, Congolese and Burundians in the Great Lakes Region of Africa.
In 2005 Never Again held an international Global Youth Genocide Prevention Conference in Kigali. Participants came from Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundia, the USA, the UK and Canada. Claire Marie White wrote: “One of the best received activities at our conference was a 'conversation lunch' in which strangers were paired by common language and used questions developed by the Oxford professor Theodore Zeldin to break down barriers. This was successful perhaps because the partners were in control and though they were not forced to talk about their situations they were able to approach them in an honest way.”
The conference report summarised: “Other events to be noted is the lunchtime session at the conference where all participants followed an exercise that helped them to get to know each other better. The session was a success, in that the remainder of the two days , brought a much closer sense of interaction amongst the participants and the project coordinators.” Sandra Uwera, National University of Rwanda
“The Muse conversations are a brilliant tool for peace-building across divided communities. Many of the people we are bringing together whether from Kigali, the Great Lakes Region, or from the global ‘North’, are trying to free themselves to some extent from prejudices that have been passed down from generations, generations whose opinions may have been coloured by experiences of conflict, indoctrination or fear. The Muse conversation allows people to get to know each other, not through assumptions about their ethnicity, nationality, religion, collective history or any of the categories people tend to use to label one another, but by their visions of the world, who they want to be, what they have lived through and how they would like to live. To see each other, and ourselves in one another’s company, through the way we answer these kinds of questions helps us to connect and become friends. We have seen in our work that these unexpected connections and friendships form part of the roots of peace-building.” Poppy Sebag-Montefiore, co-founder Never Again.
Rwanda and the World – insider outsider
An outsider can challenge an insider’s presumptions without being confrontational. The Muse aims to pair people in Rwanda with conversation partners globally. People who have visited Rwanda feel they have much to learn from the sense of shared humanity in Rwanda and the complex challenges people are trying to solve in their personal and public lives. Rwandans say that it is helpful for them to share their experiences with people outside their country, and to find out about the daily delights and challenges of different places.
Kigali Business connections
Rwanda’s Vision 2020 aims to improve Rwanda’s education and communications industry so that they can use human resources and technology to build their economy.
Kigali Muse conversation dinners are bring together business people from within China and from the outside world: employers and employees; innovators, experts and decision makers across different fields.
Our one day MCA (Master of Communication Arts) course trains managers in multinational, foreign and domestic companies to understand how they can make their own job and their life at work more interesting, rewarding and productive.
Global Conversation through Kigali
Rwandans are pleased that people are visiting and enjoying their country. Many also want people to see the genocide memorial sites. Many are unmarked mass graves, personal monuments to the grief and guilt that people in Rwanda work through everyday. They are also symbols marking the places where the world’s universal values, ideals and mechanisms to protect these, failed.
Today people pass on the streets in Rwanda with a vivid appreciation of some of the most pressing issues of the moment: the importance of the environment; international justice; and the fragility in relations between people.
Simultaneously many in Rwanda are finding ways to forgive their neighbours in order to rebuild their communities, others confess their crimes in front of their families. Rwanda, while the sight of collective failure is also a place of awe-inspiring strength as people who have lost everything realise that to feel their own humanity, they cannot live with hate.
A global conversation from Kigali will bring together ideas on conflict prevention through the method of the Muse. The more conversations we can have between Kigali and the outside world, the more solutions to the challenges of violent conflict we may find.