Grieving for the wasted lives of our militia-held compatriots

If we were not dealing with our delinquent Caines ensconced in the jungles of la République Démocratique du Congo (RDC), we’d say we’ve got a bountiful harvest these last few days. But we cannot talk that way about our own brothers, whatever curse they may wish upon us.

Still, we’ll say this. These last few months, these Rwandan brother-militiamen (no ladies, it seems) who are sworn to ‘liberating’ us by spilling our blood have not been having a good time of it.

Only last week, close to a thousand of them and their families, with also those they’ve all along been holding hostage as a show of having a following, were captured by la Force Armée de la République Démocratique du Congo (FARDC). 

The captured are set to be repatriated to Rwanda, as those captured before them have been.

All together maybe not many combatants, when the innocent families and hostages are not considered, but we are talking about a spate of their elimination or capture that has been going on for months. Only this time the haul was quite substantial.

President Félix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo of the D.R. Congo is, indeed, a man of his word. The moment he took the baton of leadership of his country from Mr. Joseph Kabila, his first pledge was to cooperate with his neighbours. And, especially, to eject foreign hostile elements who have turned the jungles of his country into a base from which to export bereavement.

President Tshisekedi has not only kept his word. He is also freeing his country of all rebels.

And so even before this recent haul, many combatants and their commanders were falling like houses of cards, in many parts of eastern D.R. Congo. Which shows the magic that cooperation between countries can perform.

Working with Rwanda is not only helping D.R. Congo rid its forests of foreign rebels who have for long been a constant threat to a neighbour, as they’ve equally been playing havoc with its people. Cooperation is also helping D.R. Congo rid itself of its own rebels who have been a never-ending menace to its citizens.

As for Rwandan militia groups, we may have been singing about their end before in vain, all right. This time, however, I personally can bet the last of my dime that we are seeing the last of them.

Only this month, young as it still is, has seen as many as six militia commanders fall, either liquidated or captured. This, mind you, means what they consider to be their top ‘cream’ – their ‘generals’ and ‘colonels’, who are not necessarily supposed to be many. That means their lesser ‘officers’ and men have fallen in their hordes, in similar manner.  Many, in lesser numbers, had fallen in the months before. So, we can confidently say that all in all, in a few weeks they’ll be history.

It’s something for Rwanda to be excited about, right? Well, wrong!

In Rwanda, we know all these to be our kith and kin. Which means this wasteful loss of our citizens is a huge indictment on their leaders who are enjoying comfortable lives in the shiny cities of South Africa, Europe and North America. They are not down in the trenches of the jungles of D.R. Congo with them because they knew theirs was a lost cause from the beginning.

These so-called leaders knew they were criminal fugitives from the long and thorough arm of the Rwandan law but they needed a shield that allowed them to wear the veneer of a liberation movement. That was that and a fig for their fighters, whether or not they were fodder for fire.

After all, the leaders had seen how the RPF liberation struggle had succeeded. Leader and fighter were one down in the trenches, sharing every single moment of pain or triumph.

These criminals thus knew they had no chance in a million against such a formidable liberation force that had vanquished multiple stronger forces that were led by a superpower.

Which is why in Rwanda, we lament for our compatriots. 

The gullible combatants who have been misled into perishing in these fatal misadventures, their innocent families and the other innocents kept captive all these years. Years wasted when these kin could have put them to good use, developing their country as they developed themselves.

We mourn for those whom, either dead by natural causes or felled in combat, unknown opportunities have passed by. Opportunities that only those who were lucky to be captured may yet have time to enjoy. Yes, even for those who first have to cool their heels in the cooler.

But we suffer most for those who have been held hostage through either force or folly that they missed out on opportunities like: availability of early child mortality protection; of protection from mothers’ death in childbirth; of healthy nutrition; of general healthcare; of education; of self-advancement enterprise, exposure to innovation and creativity, to beauty and cleanliness.

We grieve that all have missed out on unending opportunities that are unfolding by the day.

The views expressed in this article are of the author.

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