Seeking to live more peacefully with painful histories — Chaste Uwihoreye


In this interview, Chaste Uwihoreye describes his work with young people in Rwanda, from collective truth-telling conversations to supporting child-headed households in ways that foster, rather than undermine, children’s leadership. Chaste draws on Rwandan songs, poems and proverbs as forms of cultural acknowledgement and comfort in workshops with very large groups of young people. These workshops begin with a ‘story gifting’ process that acknowledges what has happened to the young people and their families, and at the same time creates new stories about ways of living together with difficult histories. Metaphoric practices are described, including an umbrella exercise in which people depict the problems they are facing in the present as rain, and the skills and knowledges that they use to face these problems as a protective umbrella. Memories are transformed into a ‘usable past’ that can be used to generate songs, poems or artworks. Possession of these tangible forms provides options for action: whether to share a song, burn a poem or keep a drawing. Chaste describes solidarity camps (Ingando) in which young people can be together and witness each other’s suffering and strength, and be trained and supported to facilitate group work with other young people. In the shadow of genocide, Chaste shares the hopeful collective work of remembering painful histories in ways that enable people to act and to live good lives in the present. 

Uwihoreye, C. (2022). Seeking to live more peacefully with painful histories (D. Denborough, Interviewer). International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work, (1), 7–17.