Twenty five years ago, all hell broke loose in Rwanda. A meticulous plan was put into motion that 100 days later, over one million souls had perished in the full glare of the world’s media.
Today, that same media is flooding our streets witnessing a rebirth beyond their expectations; a country that has strived to reunite its people at the same time proving sceptics wrong. But it was not a walk in the park.
Contrary to what peddlers of fairy tales claim that the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi was triggered by popular anger after the shooting down of President Juvenal Habyarimana’s plane, the killing of Tutsi had been a way of life for many years prior.
Most of the time it was used as a political reason, all the way from 1959, 1963, 1972 and even in 1990 and 1992.
When the Rwanda Patriotic Front launched its liberation war on October 1, 1990, Tutsis living in Umutara, especially the fishing community known as Abanyambo as well as those in Byumba, paid a heavy price. Habyarimana’s plane had not yet been shot down.
The name Juvenal Kajelijeli might not ring a bell for many, but he is half-way through his 45-year jail sentence for Genocide. In 1992 he was the Bourgmestre (Mayor) of Mukingo in the Northern Province. He first experimented the macabre plan of mass killings to gauge popular and international opinion.
Thousands of Bagogwe paid the ultimate price yet Habyarimana’s plane had not been shot down.
The same dry run was carried out in Bugesera region in the Eastern Province at about the same time. Fidele Rwambuka was Bourgmestre of Kanzenze and orchestrated large scale massacres of Tutsi. When Antonia Locatelli, an Italian nun working in Nyamata alerted the world, she was gunned down.
All the above mini Genocides were not triggered by the death of the Head of State, but by a sinister ideology. That today we have been able to move on peacefully, is a testimony that however deep hate is sown, love and patriotism will always take the day.