Message from the Chaplain: 2 February 2024

St Marys Senior School News 2 Feb 2024

On, 23 January, the Christian church commemorates Yona Kanamuzeyi. He was a deacon in the Anglican Church in Rwanda. He provided a home for refugees on his mission at Nyamata. He refused to take sides during the 1960’s civil war, devoting himself instead to the homeless people of both warring tribes who flocked to his mission.

In 2023, I had the opportunity to discuss the concept of forgiveness with the Form III History class, as part of their learning about the Rwandan genocide. As part of the discussions, we explored how language can influence our understanding of justice and forgiveness. We looked at the words for forgiveness from Sesotho and, IsiXhosa.

Ntswarele (Sesotho), is the same word one would use to ask someone to hold something, when you entrust something to someone, or when you send someone to get something for you. Ge ke re ntswarele, I am saying: help me carry this heavy load. Hold this for me. And when someone says: E re ke go tswarele, they say, let me hold this for you/ let me help you.

The isiXhosa word for forgiveness, pardon or sorry is uxolo. It is the same word used for peace. For example, Ndithanda uxolo phakathi kwam naba melwane means "I like peace between me and my neighbours" and Uxolo ngokulibala umhla wakho wokuzalwa means "I'm sorry I forgot your birthday". Studying the topic of forgiveness in this manner introduced nuance to our discussions and showed how language can promote reconciliation.

The saints for whom we give special thanks in our liturgical calendar are meant to be a source of continual encouragement to us. Remembering the work of people like Yona Kanamuzeyi is a reminder that we can try to make the story being written now different from the past.


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