Date of Award


Document Type



Santa Clara : Santa Clara University, 2017.

Degree Name

Licentiate in Sacred Theology (STL)


William O'Neill


The problem this thesis tackles is the difficult cohabitation between two ethnic groups found in Rwanda and in Burundi, namely Hutus and Tutsis. From the time of Independence, these two countries have known different tragedies, conflicts, lack of tolerance and exclusion of the other because of a gradual loss of deep cultural values that had sustained commonality and mutual respect for many years in both countries. The colonial rule and missionaries have contributed to the exacerbation of differences between Hutus and Tutsis by neglecting or erasing those values. Violations of human rights and genocidal acts that the history has recorded in those countries are rooted in that loss. The experience of South Africa through the work of the “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” which succeeded in bringing together South Africans, whites and blacks, can be tremendously inspiring for Rwanda and Burundi. The success of the South African’s process lay in the taking into account, in a harmonious way, of religious considerations of forgiveness and reconciliation with the African jurisprudence of Ubuntu which supports togetherness, harmony, inclusiveness rather than separateness or apartness. In the same way, Burundi and Rwanda whose populations are in their majority Christians can take advantage of this model of reconciliation especially because they have values that are close in meaning and effectiveness to the value of Ubuntu, values that need to be retrieved for a better future of these countries.

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