Last week, this column carried an article titled, why the UN report provoked an outrage, in which Hon. Suzanne Mukayijore was mentioned.
The article said in part “why did the report authors not consult the likes of MPs Suzanne Mukayijore and Anne Marie Musabyemungu who lived through those traumatizing times”.
In the context of the article the above statement could be interpreted to mean that both MPs were refugees in DR Congo camps. I apologize to Hon. Mukayijore for the wrong impression created by the article.
As a matter of fact, Mukayijore narrowly survived Genocide at Kicukiro (with multiple injuries). She was aided by Petite Soeur de Jesus Congregation in Kigali, who sneaked her to Kabgayi where she was rescued by RPA soldiers who took her to Butare where she stayed until Genocide was stopped.
I agree in total with her views. In her contribution to the debate on the United Nations Mapping report on the DRC on 14 October, Hon Mukayijore made three pertinent points: 1. She suggested that the aim of the report is to disrupt national goals, programmes and to undermine the unity Rwandans have so far achieved by promoting divisionism, 2. She proposed that Rwandans who lived in the DRC camps should collectively present their testimonies in writing so that the truth can prevail so as to expose the report’s lies intended to trivialize the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, 3. She challenged the report’s notion of ‘Civilian population’ that appears on Page 280.She argues that in the camps civilian were mixed with soldiers and Interahamwe militias who had been trained militarily and carried guns and, therefore, to suggest that the camp inhabitants were defenseless civilians is not correct. The camps inhabitants included many armed fighters.
I wish to use her first point for my discussion below. Rwanda has made significant progress in building peace and unity. Unity and peace can only be achieved by ensuring human dignity and empowerment of citizens.
Last Saturday I visited Kayonza District to see for myself what the Ministry of Local Government is doing to empower the Batwa referred to as Abashigajwe inyuma n’amateka or those discriminated by history.
This group has been sensitized to quit the old ways of life dominated by hunting, gathering and pottery. Forty Batwa families have been allocated 40 houses in a new Mudugudu at Nyamirama in Kayonza District. The Mududgu has water, schools and medical services.
The project does not only offer them houses but also try to engage them in productive economic activities. Those at Nyamirama have received assistance for poultry keeping and have so far been able to market their produce locally. Others have been facilitated to engage in bee-keeping and to cultivate the plots of land they have been allocated. I was not able to reach Kagyeyo where more than 50 Batwa families have been integrated in another Mudugudu according to a project officer.
These are some of the projects/achievements Rwandans guard against jealously when detractors try to take us back to chaos. The prejudices against groups disappear when people collectively get involved in community development activities.
To minimize hostility among groups (imagined or real) connection, deep engagement help people to overcome past prejudices and promote positive values. This has been achieved in Kagyeyo and Nyamirama.
The Batwa are to day called “those left behind by history” euphemistically to avoid the prejudicial connotations that have been used to devalue them. Over time the word Batwa gained negative connotations and often used to devalue them.
The phrase also acts as a mobilization call to help them catch up with other Rwandans. Again this demonstrates that Rwandans have learnt the negative impact of divisionism based on unfounded premises and marginalization of groups but instead seek strategies to develop their country as Rwandans.
Any effort to build peace should be based on improving the welfare of the people because in the first place conflict is` sparked by life conditions. Our Parliament, the Executive and all Rwandans should work in concert to ensure justice, economic development, equity and human dignity.
That is a sure way to insulate Rwanda from negative discourses which as Hon. Mukayijore observed are aimed at promoting divisionism, when she said: “Ikindi mbona ni uko bifuza kongera kutubibamo amacakubiri ngo tugire undi mwiryane maze hanyuma ubumwe n’ubwiyunge twaritumaze kugeraho bisenyuke”.