RWAMAGANA — Jean Damascene Rwasamirira, a renown Rwandan historian, has said all Rwandans must learn from the country’s history in order to spur development.
Rwasamirira was recently addressing residents of Nsinda, Muhazi Sector in Rwamagana district at Nsinda Primary School.
He said, "If you wish to develop this country, you should first learn its history. History is the best teacher," said Rwasamirira, a veteran history teacher and former parliamentarian.
After taking residents through the history of the country, Rwasamirira stressed that the divisions among Rwandans were created by former colonial masters.
"They (colonisers) employed indirect rule to divide Rwandans," Rwasamirira observed.
He said using indirect rule, the king of Belgium then would design policies to be imposed on Rwandans from Brussels. He said the orders, sometimes harsh and unbearable would be accompanied by respective punitive measures.
He gave an example of forced labour on producing cash crop plantations for export crops. Cash crops like coffee, cotton and tea were introduced and people were forced to grow them. The former law maker added that this was the time corporal punishment was introduced in Rwanda.
He said it was so difficult for Rwandans to understand who designed the rules so the king of Rwanda and his subordinates were always blamed for the harsh policies.
Anxious residents asked questions ranging from causes of ethnic divisions in Rwandan to genocide ideology. Responding to the questions, Rwasamirira explained that races exist everywhere in the world. But for Rwanda’s case, he said racism was misinterpreted to mean ethnic divisions which later plunged the country into 1994 genocide.
"We have shortage of vocabulary in Kinyarwanda. Where by we address clan, tribe, ethnicity and even a family with one word "ubwoko," Rwasamirira said.
He said people with selfish interests, especially politicians used ethnicity to achieve personal goals.
"Rwandan politicians used ethnicity as a basis of administration and encouraged genocide ideology basing on it. The consequence of which was the 1994 genocide," he said.
He appealed to residents to drop genocide ideology saying it is only destructive. He explained that genocide ideology takes various form, negationists and revisionists.
He explained that negationists are people whose activities, words, speeches, writing lead to genocide, but they keep down playing the impact.
According to Rwasamirira, revisionists look for reasons to justify their actions. They keep on dividing people in order to achieve their personal interests. If they do not achieve their goals fast they may keep on trying to achieve it at any cost.