Monday, October 27, 2008

African Feminism

It's good to realize there's more going on in the world than this presidential election and the economic tumult.  Here is an interesting article about what's going on in the African country of Rwanda--remember them?  It seemed like, for many years, we would hear reports of atrocities (that somehow never rose to a level important enough for us to really notice) with these groups of Hutus and Tutsis.  Even the tribal names seemed to minimize the violence to my American ears.  More than 800,000 people (mostly Tutsis) were systematically eliminated, mostly men.  The women, they were raped.  (The great but harrowing Hotel Rwanda depicts this terrible time.)

That was back in 1994.  Today, Rwanda finds itself with more women than men in the adult population, and the women are stepping up to lead.  The male president, Paul Kagame, has made that an important part of his government is changing the way this very paternalistic, even misogynistic, and very tribal society includes women.  

I'm of two minds about this.  One of my favorite things about Sarah Palin is that she's a mother of five.  In my experience, mothers don't have time to be idealogues.  Pragmatism is the name of the game, even though Palin clearly has some ideas that she measures her decisions against.  I believe that these Rwandan women love their children as much as I do, and they want a good future for their children (boys and girls) just like I do.

On the other hand, marginalizing the men, especially the young men and teenage boys, is tempting.  Societies in which the young men see little to no path, to a family or a future, have traditionally become bellicose.  I pray that President Tagame and the leadership there are inclusive, keeping opportunity wide open for anyone willing to work.  It would be so easy to let that pendulum swing from the highly male-dominated (and female-oppressive) culture they are surrounded by (see what's happening in neighboring Congo) to a female-dominated (and male-oppressive) one.  Wisdom and discretion will be necessary on all sides within this tiny country.  I hope they have it.


Cyrus O'Rourke said...

It's mind boggling how the world has seemingly taken little notice to what is going on in Rwanda. Some churches have done well but it just doesn't seem to stay on the mind of the public (ADD/ADHD). After the exposure of the Holocaust the world was outraged, now maybe "life" isn't so important, hmmmmm..........I wonder what could have caused that.

Cyrus O'Rourke said...

Careful Cheryl, you'll let the secret out and screw up NOW's (NAG's if you are a Rush Limbaugh listener) last big experiment.....Rwanda.

Cheryl said...

Hi, Cyrus. I don't think it's quite a NOW/NAG experiement, but more of an opening of the culture. This is a good thing...but it could turn out worse than ever if they do it wrong. It will be good to keep them in our prayers, and to keep an eye on things as they develop over there.