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Music and Reconciliation in the Aftermath of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide

ONG'ARE, PETER,OKENO (2015) Music and Reconciliation in the Aftermath of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Author: Peter Okeno Ong’are

Primary Supervisor: Dr Simon Mills
Secondary Supervisor: Prof Max Paddison

Music and Reconciliation in the Aftermath of the 1994 Rwanda Genocide


Music has a long established and well acknowledged role in entertainment, education, development, therapy and other areas, but relatively little has been explored as to its role in the deeper aspects of reconciliation. The twentieth and twenty-first centuries have been marked by wars encompassing appalling atrocities, genocide, holocaust and diverse crimes against humanity Rwandan 1994 genocide being one of them; characterised by dehumanization, betrayals and annihilation leaving sore wounds of on-going antagonism between diverse social groups; motivating this research to focus on genuine reconciliation beyond the accustomed route of mere talks, discussions and prayers.
This research uses ethnographic data from fieldwork conducted between 2009 and 2013 both in and outside Rwanda, supported by various recorded materials to discover how music was used in putting an end to atrocities, restructuring relationships, establishing and sustaining new ones. This research uses a more community-engaged strategy encouraging participation of those more directly involved at grass-roots level.
The study explores Rwanda’s history highlighting music’s facility to bring people’s past into the present, to stress unifying elements within broader society; genocide to address its causes, propagating an awareness of shared responsibility and hope for the future; Rwandan refugee camps and how music helped them cope and return to Rwanda; Rwandan ‘New dawn’ how it was idealised and actualized leading to the birth of a New Era; Commemoration as part of national ritual for reconciliation; National Symbols and their unifying power; and the organisations involved in perpetuating peace, healing and reconciliation. The findings strongly suggest that music has an enormous power in reconciliation resting on its ability to address multiple emotional human needs simultaneously.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Music, Reconciliation, Rwanda, Genocide
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Music, Department of
Thesis Date:2015
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:27 Feb 2015 11:07

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