Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Famous for 1 thing

The latest film about Rwanda has just been released (Shooting Dogs) and inevitably it is about the genocide (that sounds critical, but isn't meant to be : it is genunely inevitable that a tiny country in mid-Africa will only be of interest in te West because of something quite out of the ordinary). Whenever I speak to anyone about Rwanda, they only know about the genocide and my level of knowledge was the same until about 1 year ago. That was when we were offered a place in Rwanda instead of the DRC.

It got me thinking, though, of how many other countries in the world are famous, or at least known to me, for only 1 thing. The immediate examples are like Rwanda - Vietnam (the war), Cambodia (the killing fields). Given the way the media works, perhaps it will usually be bad news which travels the fastest.

What about Scotland? In Malawi, many people know us for giving them their Christian heritage and they are very grateful for it. It's strange that something which has been so weakened in modern Scotland should still be our source of "fame" in a remote country in Africa. It's also a challenge as we go to Rwanda, because we will be in a remote, media-free area (if such a thing still exists in the world) and we will be the way in which people know about Scotland and Scots. We won't just be "ambassadors for Christ" as the Bible puts it, but for many other things we represent. Being under scrutiny in a foreign culture is a scary prospect.

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