A recent article in Jeune Afrique by Yann Gwet questioning the validity of basing democracy on ethnic plurality propelled me back to my youth days. It reminded me of the fallacies and contradictions of what was fed into our young minds in 1959, when we as a section of Rwandans, deemed a ‘minority’, were tossed out into exile. Remember, that’s the year the first pogroms were perpetrated by the Belgian colonial power that held this country in a vice. But first things first. For the realisation of their ‘vision’, Belgians had from the onset of colonialism convinced Rwandans that they’d come to Rwanda in different waves of migration and were therefore composed of different sections known as “ethnic groups”. In fact, “races” at first! That, however, is a long story of the history of this land that’s been well documented by our historians. For our interest in Gwet’s article, we recall how Belgians used another section of Rwandans deemed a ‘political majority’ as its Trojan horse to execute those pogroms. They were the harbinger of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi (there’d been other subtle, divisive teachings and conditionings) but who’d have grasped the real gravity of what was in store for this country? Of course, terming the colonialists’ fallacious teachings as subtle is granting them intelligent thought they weren’t gifted with. But how its Northern partners waved around this empty myth as the holy truth says a thing or two about their shallowness of mind. That we see such absurdities in some of their progeny today says volumes. However, selling such idiocy and it being taken as scientific truth were not all. Because again remember, Rwanda was a monarchy. In spite of which, Belgians advanced the argument that this ‘minority’ section of Rwandans were enemies of Rwanda because they were communists. It beats all logic how monarchists can be called communists but that’s colonial cockamamie for you! Anyway, communists, socialists, whatever, it’d be understandable if those considered so were the politicians only. But no: children, spouses, parents, distant relatives, all were so. So, every ethnic group had its own ideology. In which case, the Belgians forgot to assign an ideology to those they called “Batwa” but, again, whacky for you! Most bizarrely of all, though, all these about a people who share the same language, culture, religion, name it, and mingle interchangeably in habitation of their land. It beggars belief but their supporters of the North swallowed the glaring lies hook, line and sinker. Again, remember, terming you red (communist) was placing you bang in the crosshairs of the CIA, M16, all the killing instruments of the North. The deaths of the African revolutionaries who agitated for independence in those early years, among whom King Rudahigwa, say it all. The absurdities heaped on Rwanda, methinks no other country has carried such a burden. To concretise the rift among Rwandans, Belgians sold the lie to the ‘majority’ that the ‘minority’ had turned against their king. Uti how now? They knew it was the only way a Rwandan could turn against a fellow Rwandan. Their kings had gone through thick and thin with all, leading them in defence of life and country. Whoever was enemy to the king, therefore, was enemy to their very existential survival. Alas, the lie worked with some and in the end Rwanda went to the place without a name. Genocide is the place. All in all, then, being awake to the details of their history, can Rwandans listen to anybody from ikantarange (far-flung lands) come to teach them self-governance? Democracy here is steeped in this history and none can question it. Only Rwandans know it has to be guided by their values. It’s consensual because it’s people-centred. It necessarily touches the life of each and every individual on this land, not forgetting foreign resident. Dignity for all is the word. As example, a Pine Ridge, South Dakoda (the Badlands), USA (the richest country on earth?), is unheard of in this country. Where Red Indians (natives of their land!) live in a settlement that’s a shame to recount? Where they’ve emptied grocery shelves of hand sanitisers, for lack of alcoholic drinks? Where they cannot afford face masks? And the beggars on the streets of any European country who have to make do with subways that are freezing in winter or sweltering hot in summer for shelter? Except for the Scandinavian countries, maybe, which European country can say they have a type of democracy to emulate? As Africans we have villains galore for leaders that have run their countries under, alright. But I think these misguided African youths risking limb and life in the Mediterranean would do better to seek out well governed African countries where they can freely work hard to advance their lot. And it’s incumbent upon every African leadership to reach out and rescue these young Africans. These are the strengths that, put to common use, can together make Africans’ voice strong and wealth abundant. Inward-fixated bankrupt leaderships will forever be our curse. As for Rwanda, ‘partners’ of the North, no lessons on democracy please, thanks.