In my Shona culture there is a saying: ‘demo rinotema mutirinokanganwa, asi muti haukanganwi,’ translated to ‘the axe that strikes a tree forgets, but the tree never forgets.”
Rwandans are still to bury the brutality of the years of exclusion, marginalisation and brutality meted against them by successive regimes, over the past five decades. A hectic mission liberator Rose Kabuye is now on.
She is affectionately known as ‘Rose’. She is their Rose, the fighter, the liberator, the woman who has now taken the battle to cleanse her country’s post Genocide history, to European capitals.
A day in a French court is one that Rose, Director of State Protocol, challenged German officials to grant her. She had the option of fighting her case from Germany, where she was detained upon arrival on a state mission a week ago.
But our Rose decided that would be tackling an issue that has haunted her country’s post 94’ Genocide history from a weak position.
The horrors of that Genocide are well documented.
Deciding to go to France and face the devil by looking at him straight into his eyes and dare him to say what he has said over the past fourteen years, dare him to prove his allegations, against her leadership, was surely the best option of resting the souls of over a million people buried on Rwandan soil today.
No memorial service or prayer can rest the souls of the dead, when the very reason of their untimely deaths, continues to be distorted by revisionists seeking rewrite to Rwanda’s history.
Rose’s challenge of the French is not just about closing an ugly chapter to a country’s history - - closure comes with healing. Healing comes with both perpetrators and survivors telling the truth of what happened, saying sorry, being forgiven but above all those who have to account being brought to book.
That is what the traditional Gacaca courts have been about, that is why the Arusha based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) was set up.
During the many protest marches in solidarity with Rose, Senator Aloysia Inyumba, another veteran fighter for Rwanda’s liberation, said: “Rose is a hero and a liberator for this country.
So this is unfair. Again this does not end on an individual Rose Kabuye but it is about Rwanda as a country.”
France has her version of truth, upon which the Judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere’s indictments against Rwanda’s leaders (among them Rose) are made.
The admissibility of these in a credible court of law now hang in the balance, after the third key witness Abdul Joshua Ruzibiza, withdrew his testimony.
Ruzibiza makes stunning revelations which link the French to the notorious Genocidal forces, the Democratic Forces
for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) with the evidence meant to bring down the leaders of the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), being obtained from him in a 30 minute encounter, with judge Bruguiere, in Paris.
Not only therefore is it insulting that based on this political circus, Rose has spent over a week in police custody, denied her freedoms of movement and association, but also that those who claim to be custodians of international justice, having learnt from the brutal experience of their many years of struggle against Fascism/Nazism have become the global fascists themselves.
France who is the current President of the European Union (EU), has not been made to account, for strong allegations made in Rwanda’s Mucyo Commission report, against her officials.
Neither has the EU respected the African Union’s advise on ‘wild indictments’, made at the last Heads of State Summit in Sharm el Sheik.
Rwanda forewarned of the global anarchy that is likely to result in the political abuse of the principle of International Jurisdiction, already indictments against French officials are being worked on, by Rwandan prosecutors.
Each day that Rose endures behind the cells, is a statement made against the bigotry of the international justice system.
Even those international organisations that are quick to point out excesses in human rights violations by African governments, have remained tight lipped, on Rose’s cause. For Rwanda, it is déjà vu, they have been on this road before, those who were silent then are silent today.
From the comfort of their homes, they watch a woman engage in a battle many say they are not prepared for. But this time the tables have turned, in 94’ Rose was a victim a ‘cockroach’, ‘inyenzi’ ready for extermination by the militia baying for her blood.
Today she stands on her two feet, a victor of one battle already, ready to take on another.
Their silence today means Rose’s right to justice has been suspended just like her family’s, her relatives right to life, freedom from torture and arbitrary arrests were suspended then.
A tragicomedy, as even the Catholic Church then and her priests were complicit in the massacre of Rwandans then. A contradiction today, that Germany, a country that suffered a terrible holocaust, itself, is complicit in the violation of a woman who simply stopped the killing of her people.
Rose’s cause is one sections of the international community will not touch for the simple reason that it touches at the core of the inherent contradictions in their own systems.
One of their shameful failures after the defeat of colonialism to recognise that as Africans we can determine our destiny, demand that we be treated with the deserving respect and dignity. A failure to see us beyond victim hood, to full human beings in our own right.
Our only capability being the churning out of the worlds tyrants, corrupt leaders, war lords you name it. It also exposes the skewed nature of the international justice system, imagine for a moment that it had been one of those French Generals indicted in the Mucyo report, held say in a Tanzanian prison, ready for extradition to Rwanda, there would have been diplomatic pandemonium. I bet too the G20 Summit would have been cancelled.
That we are now represented by Barak Obama in the highest office, makes Rose’s cause a worthy one – defeat first by a black man, defeat next by a black woman. The bars Rose is behind are only metal rods that will melt with the flames of truth.
Rwanda has suffered too much, to apologise to anyone for wanting a moment of peace and rest.
That today she has launched a moral challenge against two countries I dare say contributed to our history, of humanity and justice, from the French revolution, to the holocaust in Germany, says perhaps ‘tiny Rwanda’, was given more than her tough share, to reshape the history of the world.
She was humanity’s experiment on how far man can go in his evil brutality if unchecked, the story has been written, vows made, ‘Never Again’, today she stands in the dock, in yet another experiment on how a victim can defend the love for freedom, the dignity of her people, again vows will be made.
She seeks freedom from the tentacles of an evil dictatorship, but also from a colonial power that simply refuses to let go. And so as we enter a momentous week, all the sane world can do is the right thing, stand with our Rose. Rose after all is a beautiful flower, simply seeking closure.