This week we remember, 16 years ago when the propaganda against the Tutsi ultimately culminated into the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
What happened in Rwanda shocked the world and no sane human being would ignore the need to have a deeper understanding of what may be the fundamental cause of such extreme evil.
John Kayinamura, a survivor living in Rutonde village in a place called Bibare, Rwamagana district said that when he saw blood flowing all over his village, he thought that the world had come to the end.
“Everywhere blood was flowing, Tutsi’s were bleeding all over the place and their cries were so high that even God could have heard the people’s suffering,” he reflected.
People around the world including Rwandans, need to know exactly what happened before and during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
It is such need that is embedded in the essence of the Commemoration and constant research about the genocide.
Commemorations are in part, a way of seeking the answer to the question- Why the Rwandan Genocide?
We don’t need to go deep into the history that has been explained time and again but, a brief flash back is vital for our children and the future posterior.
Genocide therefore, as an act that was used to annihilate a section of Rwandan people cannot be left unqualified.
The ideology of hatred in Rwanda was propagated and ingrained into the minds of Rwandans by Western colonisers; such as Germans and Belgians. In the post colonial Rwanda, the leadership perfected the hate ideology for their own maximal benefit.
The former government opened the state machinery to be at the disposal of Hutu extremists, who not only set the ball rolling, but also set the stage for the execution of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi—they indoctrinated the local people’s minds!
The mind of the killers was already set and the Tutsi victims were already dehumanised. So a conducive atmosphere was already in place and hence executing genocide was easy.
After all it was vermin, as they propagated, that were being annihilated.
“We were not equals with others in society. They called us foreigners and gave us derogatory names like snakes.
They had dehumanized us to unspeakable levels,” lamented Raul Mugabo another survivor at the notorious Rukumberi Sector in Ngoma district.
The people of Rwanda had been greatly divided a long the so called ethnic groups of Tutsi, Hutu and Twa. It is along these divisions that hatred was firmly built into the minds of people.
As a result of constant conflicts and violence traced back to the early 1950s, many Rwandans had been forced to live as external or internal refugees.
The scale of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi however showed the extent of extreme hate and incapacity of individuals to act as free persons.
Their conscience and minds had been captured to the extent that one could kill another person without any reserve on their moral conscience.
The genocide ideology was propagated for over a long period of time. It was not surprising thus, that all evil meant being a Tutsi according to the then common wisdom.
The ‘plane crash’ that was carrying Juvenile Habyarimana was only a sorry excuse for the extremist interahamwe militia to set off widespread killings.
This cannot therefore be viewed as the cause of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. It should be noted that after the plane crash, organised murders began in Kigali. The killings spread unabated in other parts of the country.
There is overwhelming evidence pointing to the fact that the extermination of Tutsi had been planned months, and years in advance. The killings were carried out in a determined, planned, systematic and precise manner.
Jean Damascene a Rwandan historian and a survivor of the genocide, said that plans to annihilate the Tutsi was clearly seen by children in schools and communities.
“Look, the segregation we were subjected to in our communities, public and private institutions, schools and in the army indicated a very dangerous move against the Tutsi. First of all, Tutsi were denied access to education and employment. This was in itself genocide. What followed never surprised us, but the speed with which, it was done was shocking,” he said.
The genocide thus was carried out in the shortest time possible, by Rwandans against other Rwandans.
In other countries where genocide occurred; be it the holocaust or the Armenian genocide, it was between people of different nationalities and culture.
But in Rwanda, it was people of the same nationality and culture who spoke the same language. The killings were based on physical appearance and perceived tribal differences. It is true that every country’s genocide is unique in its way and so was the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
To be continued...