Equal Partnership Initiative

„Equal Partnership Initiative“ (EPI)

We had our workshop from 18th August until 2nd September 2012. Although it was meant to be an encounter between a group from Rwanda with a group from Germany it soon became clear that our reality is often more colourful than it may seem at first glance: the “Rwandan” group consisted of Rwandans, rwandophone Congolese, a Ger-man-Brazilian and a US-American who had partly grown up in Africa. The “German” group on the other hand was made up of Germans, a white Namibian, a Rwandan and an Austrian-German. Who is African then? And who is European? Who considers himself to be Western and to what extent does the colour of our skin define our identity? And who should in the end reconcile with whom?

This is but a little insight into some of the questions which provided the backdrop for our discussions on “African-European (or African-Western) relationships”. During the first week we learned a lot about the context of reconciliation in Rwanda. After war and genocide in the 1990s as well as after decades of societal tensions and displacement, people have to learn to live together again – sometimes as victims and perpetrators (or at least bystanders) in the same neighbourhood! We were impressed to meet people who had taken these costly steps of repentance and forgiveness.

And yet, during the second week, which we spent as an actual workshop in a guesthouse at Lake Kivu, we realised that we as “Germans” / “Whites” do not find ourselves outside of conflicts. The discussions of attitudes of superiority or inferiority, global discrimina-tion and injustice, as well as our identity – which we are unable to examine detached of “the others” – led us to see and to acknowledge much of our own guilt. It was good to be able to talk openly and that confession, forgiveness and in this way a deepening of our relationships were possible. And still – many questions remain open. One of them: how can we treat each other as equals and live out egality – since all of us were made in God’s image – and at the same time live in structures which cause enormous injustice and therefore inequality?

Despite our helplessness and perplexity it was clear to us in the end: we want to face this challenge and continue to ponder on these questions together with our eyes fixed on Jesus. And we are excited to see what HE will cause to grow from this initiative called EPI.

Marcus Grohmann, September 2012