The Cessation Clause against Rwandan refugees that came into effect at the beginning of the month is an epic chapter in Rwandan history.
The country has generated political refuges since 1959 due to internal turmoil, fueled by bankrupt governments who preyed on insecurity to mask their incompetence and nefarious motives.
President Gregory Kayibanda epitomized the most cynical streak when he started the anti-Tutsi pogrom. He is reported to have answered pleas to end the bloodshed with three “H”s: Hora, Honga, Hunga (Revenge, Bribe or Flee) as the only options for the victims of the violence.
When talks were instigated to bring the Rwandan refugee saga in the 70s, former President Juvenal Habyarimana, Kayibanda’s successor, was coyer in sidestepping the issue or gave a semblance of reasons why it was impossible to repatriate the refuges.
His main argument was that the country was small and over populated, equating it to a glass full of water with no more space to add more, or a movie hall full to capacity with no more admissions, urging host countries to adopt the refugees instead.
Today, it is a different story; Rwanda has opened its doors wide for all its countrymen to return and share their resources, however meager, with no strings attached. The majority have since returned – often on the perils of their lives – after escaping from the clutches of criminals who fear facing the law and keep ordinary refugees as human shields or alibis.
For those who return and are reintegrated into their communities and enjoy their full rights as citizens, they all share the same story; there is no place better than home.