The first time I heard of the UN, it wasn’t as that acronym; it was as RONI, a Kinyarwanda corruption of the French “l’ONU” (“l’Organisation des Nations Unies”). I was a young stripling in exile then, listening to the newly launched Radio Rwanda that tested its broadcasting capability repeatedly with only one song.
The song, “Turatsinze Gaye!”, sent a chilling message to Rwandans who had just been rendered stateless: “Itora mwisabiye/Ko ari mwe rikozeho/RONI yindi izava he......?”
It mocked those denied their nationality for being ignored by the UN, when they ran to it for intervention. There being no other UN, it jeered, who would extract them from their wretchedness?
This episode of Rwanda’s hideous history is too long for this space but in a word, the absurdity of it was that the UN watched as the political party that won in a referendum set upon a whole section of Rwandans, assisted by the colonial power. They banished, maimed and slaughtered them en masse as the losing party, despite the fact that not all of the victimised belonged to it. Which, even if they did, shouldn’t have been the price for losing, anyway.
It was that massacring tragedy that the song celebrated.
Naïve compatriots, too, in their jubilation, little they know that in that UN non-intervention, they were celebrating the capping of preparations for their country’s journey to hell. Nor did they know that the preparations were set in motion the moment Rwanda was ‘acquired’ by Belgium, an odd forty years previously.
When the League of Nations (precursor to the UN) handed us to Belgium as our caretaker, after the defeat of Germany in WWI, it knew that it was feeding us to the shacks.
It knew because it had been witness to the millions of Congolese who had perished under the murderous hand of Belgian King Leopold II’s agents. And yet many more, under his country’s colonial agents, after he’d sold the Congo as his property to his monarchy.
That orgy of slaughter, maiming, limb-severing, ‘working-a-people-to-death’, etc, is said to have counted no less than fifteen million Congolese dead and countless others disabled.
Therefore, 1959, year of the said celebrated tragedy, did not come as a surprise to the UN.
Belgium had made it even easier for the UN to ignore the tragedy by cunningly ‘ethnicising’ Rwandans into an important majority and lesser minorities, knowing the UN has never given a hoot about minorities. The Ruhingyas are a living example.
And so from there, the UN sat cosy as, for over 30 years, these Rwandan ‘minorities’ were marginalised at home or roamed the world as stateless sojourners of lands near and far, where conditions permitted.
But when in 1990 the ‘minorities’ reared their heads around the fringes of Rwanda to press for their rights, threatening to rock the boat of a ‘majority-democracy’ status quo, the UN rose.
Its intervention force was now here and, as expected, showing no results. But as the peacekeepers idly sat it out, when not making merry, the Genocide against the Tutsi broke out and, with their comfort zone disrupted, they bolted for it!
To save their skin or to give way for the minorities to freely sink deeper in their wretchedness? Search me.
Only after the RPF had halted the Genocide and gone out to free Rwandans taken to Zaïre (D.R. Congo) as hostages by the armed génocidaires in their flight did we begin to hear of the UN again. This time its agents came in the skin of ‘mapping experts’ to declare that the new Rwanda was responsible for the death of millions of Congolese.
In a land teeming with myriad rebel outfits that to this day apparently kill for a living, assisted in their brutal handiwork by a bloodsucking darling of the UN, FDLR, the experts could ‘expertly map out’ that every single death of a Congolese had a Rwandan fingerprint on it. Beggars belief!
There is no doubt, those experts were counting the repatriated Rwandans as dead among those killed by this collection of uncountable Congolese rebel outfits. Which is not unlike the UN, if we remember another set of its agents who have been here on a mission of no consequence.
Of all the countries around the world, the UN sees it as urgent to send its agents to investigate torture in Rwanda, an oasis of calm in a world in turmoil. And this, following reports by another discredited, past-shelf-life body in the names of Human Rights Watch.
HRW, a body headed by another after-shelf-life, sworn Rwanda-hater whose lifeline to stretched employment seems to hang solely on finding insults to hurl at Rwanda. Isn’t it that kind of desperate existence that leads his organisation to report dead, Rwandans who are alive and well?
If the UN wants to be of use to anybody, why don’t they investigate all those countries that are tenaciously shielding our génocidaires from justice?
Or else, what does our government gain in entering into any agreement with this hulking heap of hangers-on, the UN? We should first have thought of sending our Ombudsman to investigate the rot in their functions and finances!
Admittedly, the UN has some useful services but, on the whole, it has underserved Rwanda.
The views expressed in this article are of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Times.