April, May, June and July soon here. It’s in order, then, that before we get to the celebratory mood of July 4, we again look back and agonise over the time we were sunk into hot hell.
Into hell by our own brethren and ‘sistren’ who seemed possessed by demons from some ‘Draculan’ underworld hitherto unknown to mankind.
Genocides have happened in other parts of the world but none has ever seen father butcher children; children, one parent; mother, children and husband; husband the same; neighbour, neighbour. All with such unimaginable inhumanity as knew no taboo, to send this land into slaughterhouse paralysis.
Whether we be under the menacing cloud of this coronavirus pandemic, whatever its traps of spikes and rears of its ugly head in unforeseen places, we’ll conquer. It’s not the first virus to strike and it’ll not be the last.
Although, truth be told, none has so completely hooded all of the ‘worlds’. Most uncommonly, perhaps, the ‘first world’ more than the ‘third’.
For this virus, Rwandans take heart. As long as we’ve seen somebody beat it, why shouldn’t we lick it? We’ll soon shove it into the beastly bin of relics of history and wait for the next.
But more than a million precious lives lost in the senseless Genocide against the Tutsi?
Those haunting memories will be with us till the end of time.
Think of the bright future so many of our tender kids, as Rwandans all, have missed out on.
For a long, mortified measure of a hundred days, those lovely and loving babies hunted down to be pounded in mortars. Their cheery little bodies knocked into bloody messes with nail-studded knobkerries if not smashed against concrete or rocks.
Their beautiful round heads severed from their little, gentle trunks. Their little lips froze on the breasts of dead mothers.
They and parents drowned in lakes and swamps they hid in for so long that they could no longer keep afloat.
Yes, even if it be 26 years thence, shed tears and don’t be embarrassed about it. Our babies, our flesh; we will always relive your memories and so will our progeny, time without end.
Let’s remember them all as we always shall.
The women who, for those three long and lugubrious months, hung onto straws in swamps and lived and fed their own on water and papyrus during the day and went foraging for food at night like hippos, only to see all the others succumb to death and survive alone.
Are they not only living as directionless zombies?
The men, buried up to their necks, watching their wives repeatedly gang-raped in front of children, relatives, all, while their eyes were force-opened throughout the horrific ordeal. After which, the crazed fiends turned on everyone with all sorts of killing implements, leaving the entombed husbands at the mercy of vultures.
Every strike of the beaks or talons as the vultures tore at their heads felt like a sledge-hammer.
Varieties of tormenting experiences were too many to enumerate. It’s no wonder then that many died as they beseechingly begged for summary execution to maniacs in self-induced deafness.
Wrap your mind around that, those who can! And this here-below, too
The word of one man could’ve stopped the whole anarchy: François Mitterrand, then-president of France who was papa to the regime. And he had all the reasons for that, having supported the genocidal regime to the hilt, including mobilising all Francophone African forces to join in, during the RPF/A liberation struggle.
He tried everything but, alas for the fellow, it all came to nought. He, however, was not done.
When the liberators were about finished stopping the genocide, his last-ditch effort was to unleash his elite French forces with enough war material to wipe out the African continent!
Dubbed a ‘humanitarian’ Opération Turquoise, the opération only succeeded in duping the hunted victims, who had hitherto managed to hide from, or fight off, the génocidaires. They came out and into the arms of these French ‘humanitarians’.
Hardly a victim in the whole of western Rwanda, the genocidal forces’ last bastion, survived.
The ‘humanitarians’ had abandoned them to the waiting killing implements of the genocidal maniacs to go rout the liberators and scatter them across the Rwandan borders, their true assigned mission.
As the support for the regime had failed miserably during the liberation struggle, however, so did it laughably this last genocide-perpetration time.
The story that I never tire retelling. The French forces sent a reconnaissance team towards the south-western town of Butare. But before these could reach the town, they met a lone young RPA liberator standing astride in the road, his hand up for “Halt!” When the jeep commander ordered his men to go push off the ‘inconsequential’ youth, these heard the cock of a gun.
Startled, they looked up the hill only to see gun-muzzles on surrounding hills trained on them!
Four were captured and freed only when the whole ‘Turquoise’ load, with its génocidaires and their ‘emptied-Rwanda’ loot, were well ‘exile-settled’ across the border, in the then-Zaïre.
Access to Mitterrand’s archives? It may hold little that’s unknown to Rwandans.
The views expressed in this article are of the author.