French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner’s visit to Rwanda and his meeting with President Paul Kagame has put the two countries’ relationship on the road to mending. It has taken a long while, but it is the second of steps taken to restore normal diplomatic relations between countries that share so much history, the first one being the meeting that was held between the two countries’ leaders in December 2007.
The need to re-establish relations is not embedded in any fuzzy political agenda, other than the fact that the current government has sought an open and clear policy regarding what happened before and during the 1994 Genocide. France was part of this history, thus whereas Rwandans are coming to grips with their sad part in it, whoever participated should too.
The way forward for Rwandans is mapped out in many programmes, including the Gacaca Court system, where both the perpetrators of the Genocide and their surviving victims look for ways to come clean and try to bury the hatchet for a new beginning. Everyone realizes the futility in continuing to point fingers; yet an admission of guilt on the part of a Genocide perpetrator can only be equated with the joy of a ne’er-do-well coming back home, determined to make good and start life afresh. This is the beauty of Gacaca, that a bad person confesses his guilt and bows down his head in shame, which almost always automatically brings forgiveness.
It is in such a spirit therefore that France should deal with Rwanda, so that the modalities that are being worked out take into consideration the fact that intransigence cannot get anyone anywhere. It is good that even if it is a far cry from what has been exposed of France’s role in the Genocide, at least the French minister has pleaded guilty to political faulting, if military responsibility has been denied.
Rwanda therefore welcomes France’s efforts to heal the broken hearts of Rwandans. They have forgiven their killers; they will certainly find it in them to forgive the people whose ‘politics’ misguided their killers.