In a wildlife documentary last Saturday, I watched as a pride of lions, for acting in concert, floored a mighty elephant for their meal. Without relishing any bloodletting, I marvelled: it’s no wonder that a group of lions is called a “pride”.
All the elephant needed was a little help from one kin and the two would easily have kicked and trunk-whipped the lions a-scatter. Yet a whole herd of elephants could only stare warily, ready to take flight if the lions so much as turned their glance on them!
The lions’ triumph was a striking display of how “l’union fait la force”, unity is strength.
Thinking of this, I was struck by a fifty-nine-year flashback that overwhelmed me.
Surely, how could last November 1st have passed me by without my recollection? How did I fail to reminisce over November 1, 1959, having been infant witness to its first indication of how the Rwandan society had been torn asunder?
A return to harmonious co-existence a short twenty-five years ago should not be allowed to cloud that bitter memory. In fact, eternity itself should never diminish memory of the evil.
If anyone at any time should allow complacency to lull them into forgetting the lost generations of disastrous 1959 – 1994, it will be nothing short of criminal. After all, they’ll already have bent over backwards to tolerate a memory-lapse of the savagely divisive colonial era.
Because if there was any trigger to the Genocide against the Tutsi, that was disgraceful it. The mid-air explosion of Chief-Genocide-Architect was an incidental sub-text to a fait accompli.
The trigger was when part of this society accepted to abandon its collective unity and pride.
This fact need be etched on the mind of everyone who cares about human dignity.
A people known for their famed bravery, who’d have thought they’d have among them such wicked traitors?
Traitors to their unity, honour, dignity, uprightness, pride and more. What happened that we had/have Judases who could/can shamelessly go around peddling that treachery for mere “pieces of silver”, much as their luck is fast waning today?
Do they remember legendary figures who bestrode this land like Colossuses in defence of its society’s unity and pride?
The Colossuses of yore who fended off attacks from hostile neighbours, during yesteryear primitive tribal expansion wars. They who kept slavery at bay while it ravaged regions around.
Those Colossuses were all Rwandans made formidable by acting as one. And proud to be one.
Together, they were one Rwandan Colossus, so to say.
We sing praises to King Musinga for daring to challenge the invading colonial hegemony. Its alien lethal guns notwithstanding, the dignity of a people had to be defended and, for that, sacrifice came naturally to our compatriot. He was banished to die in reprehensible isolation but, as hero of the time, we’ll sublimely be with him till the end of time.
And so shall we, with King Rudahigwa. Put on the throne as infant king, colonialists duped him into dedicating this country to a God of their fashioning. But hardly past his teen years, he threw off their twofaced designs. From Butare (“Astrida”) in Rwanda to Bukavu in (“Belgian”) Congo, he was quick to punch the face of any colonialist who belittled any citizen of the region.
Talk about “punching above one’s weight” – you’d think Rudahigwa invented the idiom for Rwanda. Happy he definitely is, that that ‘punch’ has been raised to dizzying heights today.
Anyway, when he tried to resist their divisive tide of establishing a Europeans noble-serf relationship type here and to seek out alliances with their cousins in America, cowards that they were, they stealthily poisoned him.
That, however, was not before Rukara rwa Semukanya Intahanabatatu abaroga Bishingwe, whom in their tiered society they’d have counted as of a lesser class, had proved to them that Rwanda was as classless as they came. When in their trademark cowardly way they bullet-pumped his body ‘net-holed-lifeless’, he had felled two of their own for denying fellow country-folk and him due respect.
On his part, fellow countryman Basebya ba Nyirintwari contented himself with ridiculing their foolishness, as idlers who asked questions whose answers they already knew. Inane they, his subtlety, could they dig?
Needless to say, each personality’s heroism would need tomes to do justice to its telling.
That apart, then, fast-forward to this side of 1994, where modern-day Colossuses bestride Rwanda. Humble and smooth digital operators, their focus is trained on attaining the highest possible living standards for all, leaving nary a citizen out.
Not that if it came to bare knuckles, they’d not more than hold their own, as they’ve done before when times have demanded it.
And some treacherous sorts think they can divert such a people’s attention? They may bask in the false qualification of “prominent opponents” all they want. Some good it’ll do them.
You and I know that prominence in politics, business, defence of their own, uprightness of character, name it, as born opportunists they’ve never been in whistling proximity of it.
Innovation-n-tech savvy Colossuses bestride this land to defend and promote it; where it’s all for one, one for all.
The views expressed in this article are of the author.