Whenever I look at the clean, orderly towns and the green, vibrant countryside of Rwanda, I always try to force my mind not to wander back to the period immediately after the 1994 genocide. But, as if in the grip of an invisible, fiendish force, my mind is always inevitably drawn into that shambles.
The countryside was virtually empty but, surprisingly, the towns were pulsating, even if in a state of cacophonous chaos. People who had taken over abandoned properties were doing roaring business. Shops sold whatever was found there or what was being brought in from outside and doubled up as bars selling all brands of drinks in the streets in front, behind and anywhere around, 24 hours a day.
Prostitutes and their accompanying pimps roamed the streets, bars and nightspots peddling flesh. Money changers hissed at every passerby, offering to change any currency. Cart-pushers and load-carriers filled the streets ready to take any load anywhere. Street urchins, beggars, name them, freely mingled with the confused crowds.
And the god of all this bedlam was the ONG. At first I didn’t know what this ubiquitous ONG was until somebody explained that it was ‘Organisation Non-Governementale’ (ONG), French for ‘Non-Governmental Organisation’ (NGO). There were close to 500 of these organisations and their workers, including UN peace-keepers, numbered in the thousands.
There were ‘relief workers without borders’, ‘charity workers without borders’, ‘humanitarians without borders’, ‘rights activists without borders’, ‘reporters without borders’, ‘peace keepers without borders’ and all sorts of no-border organisations. Practically every country of the West had a charity organisation here.
The workers and keepers and their petrol-guzzling monster four-wheel-drives together with bursting pockets and extravagant lifestyles pushed prices through the roof and drove inflation sky-high. Meanwhile, citizens began to scratch out a living on the hillsides and town dwellers emptied their pockets trying to compete with those workers for groceries.
The newly installed government first returned all properties to their legal owners. But when it advised these aid workers to wind up, a flurry of negotiation activity broke out.
They promised not only to give more aid but to make sure the people work for it; if the government did not want a country of beggars, as the officials patiently explained. Still, they were doing more harm than good and the government put a stop to their ‘assistance’.
Luckily for the aid workers, an army of refugees was waiting across the border in Zaïre (today’s D.R. Congo) and that became their next port of call. And, truly, that was literally an ‘army of refugees’ as they included ex-FAR soldiers and Interahamwe militia who had shifted with the entire Rwandan military arsenal while holding other refugees hostage.
As the ‘refugee army’ in Zaire recruited and trained, France, which had helped it bundle the refugees along and cross, gave it more morale by hiring Serbian mercenaries to assist it. The aid workers were given – not just a new – but also a longer lease on life, even if it meant living in less civilised conditions.
Back in Rwanda, the UN ‘peacekeepers’, who had created no peace and therefore had none to keep, were also politely advised to stop their ‘assistance’ and pack their bags – and go with all those bags! Mohamed Sharia Khan, the Pakistani gentleman who headed the UN contingent, pleaded for more time but the Rwandan government officials could as well have been deaf.
Again in Zaire, after only a short time of this life of plenty for aid workers and hope for France of seeing their allies back in Rwanda, the twin bedfellows suddenly saw the carpet pulled from under their feet.
The government of Rwanda sent its troops into those militarised refugee camps and extracted the over two million civilian refugees from the clench of those training insurgents, who scurried deeper into the jungles.
Rwanda resettled its people and started the long journey to reconciliation, unity and economic growth, a revolutionary journey that is ongoing to-date.
So, “President Paul Kagame is a man under siege,” as Sara Bakata, deputy chief sub-editor of ‘The East African’ observes, and every one of these do-gooder organisations “wants to see Rwanda burn.”
France and the United Nations are in the “lynch mob” because the two have forces within them that have an axe to grind with Rwanda.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon are aware of this but are powerless in the face of the clout of these forces.
These forces, however, only serve to discredit their country and organisations further. A powerful country like France that tried to fight a ragtag RPF armed wing, RPA, and was given a bloody nose will forever live in shame, whatever efforts those forces may put in to salvage their name.
In leaking the UN ‘Mapping Report’ to the French newspaper, ‘Le Monde’, maybe those forces in the UN thought they could gang up with those in France to drop a bomb on Rwanda.
Admittedly, by leaking it alone the damage has been done on Rwanda, but whom can such a report convince, apart from diehard genocide deniers who are wishing for a case of double genocide?
A responsible body does not write a volume of repeated paragraphs so as to convince people that it has carried out an investigation and: “Bang! A case of genocide!”
We saw it in Rwanda. You don’t have to have been there to know the conditions that lead up to it, as François Soudan of ‘Jeune Afrique’ would tell you any time. Genocide needs meticulous preparation, ideological support, listing of names, systematic execution and more.
You don’t know how many civilian refugees were left in those jungles, you don’t know how many were killed and you don’t know if you were given objective reports.
And you did an investigation and want to report a case of genocide?
The term ‘Reckless’ does not begin to describe you!