“When people were cutting each other with machetes I was only two years old,” said one young man to his friends to prove his age and justify why he is not yet married.
What stood out however was the influence of genocide negationists and apologists: what happened in Rwanda was an inter-ethnic conflict in which people killed each other.
It is a misrepresentation peddled by chief genocide architect Bagosora’s daughter Victoire Ingabire and her followers in the Netherlands and elsewhere.
The planned attempt to wipe an entire ethnic group from the face of the earth by a sitting government is presented as an interethnic conflict that affected all ethnic groups putting the victims and the perpetrators in the same situation.
There are those who will do anything to avoid the phrase: “genocide against Tutsis in Rwanda”, unpleasant as it is, by instead using the phrase “during the war”.
This is meant to gloss over the gravity of the evil scheme; after all people die during the war. There is a deliberate attempt by many in and beyond our society to blanket- cover the hunting down, torture, rape and systematic murder of men, women and children, whose names were read from lists prepared by government employees, as a consequence of war.
When someone asks about a victim of the genocidal killings the answer he/she is most likely to get is that he died during the war as if grey haired men, women and toddlers were combatants taking part in fighting.
Some of our leaders long ago found a way of going round the word genocide by using phrases and statements such as “what befell Rwanda”, “the problems of what happened to Rwandans” and “the disaster that befell Rwanda”.
The attempt is to present the planned and nearly accomplished annihilation of an ethnic group as an inevitable disaster or act of nature comparable to an earthquake, floods, or tsunami.
The idea is to avoid the politically incorrect word genocide in the advancement of their political goals.
One of our leaders has a unique way twisting words so he can twist our minds; the effects of the genocide, he tells his listeners, are equally shared by all Rwandans.
Simply put the victims and perpetrators of the genocide share its responsibility and effects! Those who got disabled, those who lost whole families and lost property and their tormentors are bundled together.
This is in line with those who talk of a double genocide pushed by killers evading justice in Europe.
It is unfortunate some minds are already twisted: one friend a sole survivor in a typical “African” extended family blames what happened in Rwanda on “people who attacked the country”.
His family had been forcibly relocated, before he was born, from western Rwanda to Bugesera in the east to start life from scratch in the tsetse infected uninhabited part of the country having lost all they owned by the sitting government, they had been denied education because students then did not pass but were “allowed” according to one’s ethnicity, denied employment , made second class citizens and later painfully murdered by the same criminals but the minds are twisted to blame someone else and not the killers and their handlers.
Other minds are twisted to swallow hook, line and sinker the genocide apologists’ claims that the “killings were a spontaneous explosion of grief by a population shocked by the death of the president”.
“The assassination of Habyarimana sparked the genocide” they want the world to believe. The fact that as early as 11th January, 1994 the Commander of UNAMIR Gen. Dallaire had written to UN Department for Peace Keeping Operations warning of possible planned mass killings does not straighten the twisted minds.
The fact that then prime minister designate Twagiramungu had covertly introduced the chief trainer of Interahamwe to Dallaire willing to reveal the genocidal plot and weapons caches in and around Kigali months before the genocide on condition of political asylum in a Western country is not considered; nor is the fact that Dallaire flew to Gabiro barracks where he met Hutu killers from southern Rwanda transported in government ONATRACOM buses undergoing training in killing techniques months before the genocide.
The registration of Tutsi school children according to their ethnicity in all schools by school administrators as reported by unarmed peace observers as early as February, 1994 is presented by such criminals as a normal school program.
The Government of Rwanda has committed enormous efforts and resources into the process of unity, reconciliation and healing of the Rwandan society.
The first step towards reconciliation is truth; indeed let the truth prevail in Rwanda. Saying one thing to mean another especially on the part of our leaders does not lead to reconciliation but defies it.
People may forgive but will not forget and our leaders must be seen to foster the spirit of forgiveness not by twisting words so as to twist minds but by saying what they mean and meaning what they say.
As Shakespeare’s King in Hamlet put it “words without thought never to heaven go” equally twisted words from ‘some’ of our politicians about unity, forgiveness and reconciliation never to hearts go.