Rwanda: How Solace Quietly Brings Solace to the Needy; There Are Several African Success Stories of Heroism in Charitable Works. One of Them Is the Solace Ministries in Rwanda. This Month We Have Decided to Highlight Their Good Works If Only to Show to Those Who Are Still Asking, "What Are Africans Doing for Themselves in the Midst of Their Problems?" This Report Is by Ola Sheyin

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When asked why African musicians had been largely ignored as acts in the last Live 8 concerts, the principal organiser, Sir Bob Geldof, reportedly replied in essence with a question along the lines of, "why weren't African musicians organising similar concerts for their own people in the first instance?".


This might seem a decent and thoughtprovoking response at first take, but it is also one that could be very, very far away from the reality on the ground. If all one knows about Africa is gleaned from the media images and stories presented rampantly all over the world, it might seem the obvious case. But for those who actually live on the continent, or those who have had the privilege of even brief visits to Africa, there might be a completely different story to tell.

Such people would be quick to point out that the primary nature of the African is to help whomsoever he perceives to be in need. They might also point out that because Africans see this as their genuine everyday duty to their fellow human beings, they would deliberately refuse to glory in advertising such deeds or make political or personal gains from another person's misfortune.

Not only do African musicians organise similar concerts on a regular basis, other artistes, professionals and ordinary citizens also do so--they just aren't usually staged on the same global scale with sustained publicity and pizzazz.

They are also not reported by the world media (except in managed stories like the film, Hotel Rwanda) because of the possible damage it might inflict on the carefully created global stereotypes.

And it is also noteworthy to add that the local African media shy away from reporting them because it is not "newsworthy" to the African mind to say a group of Africans, no matter how poor, had rallied around to help people in need. What else are they supposed to do? It is like reporting that a man and his family had breakfast in the morning.


There are several African success stories of heroism in charitable works (if we permit ourselves the vanity of looking at ourselves as heroes for helping people in need) which go on, on a daily basis, in several parts of the continent and we have decided to take the time out this month, to highlight just one of such: The Solace Ministries, in Rwanda, if only to show to those who are still asking what Africans are doing for themselves in the midst of their problems.

Founded by Jean Gakwandi immediately after the smoke of the genocide subsided in 1995, Solace is sustained by the generous contributions of friends and partners who have largely chosen to remain anonymous. They work tirelessly outside the glare of the media, in restoring hope to thousands in the seven provinces of the country where they now operate. They have built a first-class network that has helped many to meet their emotional, psychological, financial and physical needs. …


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