French President Emmanuel Macron was in town. And, let’s admit it, he made a positive impact, much as it wasn’t the sort of impact some Rwandans desired. These wanted the outright pronunciation of an apology. But considering the environment the president operates in and the system he speaks for, all should admit that the fact alone of his bold visit was a step in the right direction. And it’s not only the fact of his visit. For that, President Sarkozy was the first to visit, putting forward the ‘politically safe’, but not accurate, statement of the Mitterrand government having been ‘blind’ to what was happening during the Genocide against the Tutsi! For Macron, it’s especially that his heart showed in his visit, as expressed in his words and body language. In verbal expression, Macron didn’t pretend to understand the horrifying agony suffered by victims of the Genocide and its survivors. He frankly confessed inability to comprehend and articulate the anguish that no one else, who wasn’t there, can feel. The choice of where to deliver his speech was as deliberate as was the Rwandan proverb with which he opened his speech: “Ijoro ribara uwariraye”. “Only those who’ve traversed the night can recount it”, as someone translated out of his speech in French. And indeed, only the victims felt its goriness and only survivors can formulate the feeling. The choice of Gisozi Genocide Memorial as his preferred venue for the speech showed his emotions were in tandem with his expression, not forgetting the fact of being faithful to the near-exact number of the victims, as Rwandans know it. It’s over one million so far as the count has not ceased, since remains of victims’ remains keep appearing in all sorts of places. Rwandans are used to gullible foreigners and inflexible genocide ideologues quoting a dismissive “over 800,000”, if not “over 500,000”. He put the finger on the fact of a genocide not being a once-happenstance, something no visiting president has done. Few have seen the truth that “It has a genealogy. It has a history. It is unique. A genocide has a target…[….]…cannot be erased. Its marks are indelible. There is no end. There is no life after a genocide, one lives with it, as one can.” Its thus that he saw the incomprehensibility of the Genocide by those who did not go through its devastation and that only those who survived it can recount it. In body language, the show of solidarity was there wherever Macron encountered a genocide survivor. It was in the way he greeted them and in the delicate voice he used in conversations with them. It was evident in his general comportment in whatever situation he was in that immediately evoked the memory of the evil. All Rwandans of goodwill, you must admit this resonates with us all. As to whether France “worked for peace” during the horrid hundred days or before, or tried to “broker peace” and to make efforts to persuade the génocidaires to share power with the RPF, that should be left to history for judgement. We know the heavy artillery that was always there to bolster the confidence of the genocidal forces. We remember that one word from French authorities against commission of the Genocide would have put a prompt stop to the whole criminal enterprise. We know very well about the intentions of the last-ditch endeavour of the so-called ‘humanitarian’ Opération Turquoise. But ours is to look to the future for shared growth creativities to ensure a better place for both our coming generations. We shall never forget our history and will always draw lessons from it but will not allow it to bog us down. Otherwise, whatever President Macron said about that shared history must be seen in the context of addressing sections of his home constituency. It’s understandable to Rwandans. Doubtless, the French President’s visit was a landmark launch of future unprecedented cooperation between Rwanda and France – hoping that no future French leader surfaces to muddy the waters again. We in Rwanda don’t know President Paul Kagame to engage in diplomatic niceties to placate anybody. Or to entertain public-relations platitudes to please. We know him as telling it as it is and appreciating it as it is: the truth and nothing but the truth. When he appreciates this truth in powerful terms as delivered in powerful terms, all is well. We can pick quotes out of his delivery but that, rather than the whole, is doing injustice to it. Suffice to say that my gut feeling is that the two countries can now do business; work in solidarity. Rwandans, President Macron has asked for “the gift of forgiveness”. Survivors of the horror of 1994 and the whole community of Rwandans, let’s seize on that olive branch and await more justice action on the genocide fugitives harboured in France. As Guillaume Ancel, Lt Col (rtd), who was in Rwanda during the ugly period of French presence, says: “A sordid page has been turned.”. A toast to President Macron and let’s wish him success in next year’s elections.