Language studis, conflict, resolution

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After the genocide perpetuated against Tutsi, the government of Rwanda took on the path to rebuild the country. Education became Rwanda’s priority in order to recover the lost human resource capacity. The government also focused on unity and reconciliation to create harmony among Rwandans. Science and technology has been advanced as one of the key solutions to Rwanda’s development needs. This promotion of science and technology has led to a lack of appreciation of language studies, arts, and humanities in general. As a result, the importance of language studies in the country’s growth and its role in conflict resolution has been undermined. Right from secondary school to university level, options of language studies have been reduced with some departments being canceled. It is the case of African language department in National University of Rwanda in 2008.

However, the history of Rwanda proves the importance of language consideration in conflict transformation and peace building. The language use drives the conflicts from the colonialism to the independence, from dictatorship regime to the genocide perpetuated against Tutsi in 1994. It is improbable to resolve or change those conflicts without language means as stated by Tom Ndahiro (2004:54), “From the face value, one whose knowledge is limited on what happened in Rwanda may tend to think there is no problem with the concept in the language used several times in press releases. It is only through the analysis of the usage of the words and their connotative meanings that their insinuation can be meaningful”.

This paper attempts to outline the consideration of language studies in conflict resolution in Rwanda. The genocide perpetuated against Tutsi as result of Rwandan conflict engendered in language semantic distortion and change in colonial period. Genocide ideology has been developed by leaders in independent period and later on used to disseminate hatred among Rwandans through language means.



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