Language preferences have nothing to do with origins. Kinyarwanda is spoken by all Rwandans. But this linguistic community could not prevent them from killing their brothers and sisters. In a very atrocious but different way a similar history happened again.
For centuries Jewish people belonged to our country speaking a better and more civilised German than their Christian neighbours. The strong symbiosis of Jewish and German people representing such prominent names like Heinrich Heine, Mendelsohn, and Einstein was destroyed in the death camps of Auschwitz.
Germany, a country of great culture, sciences and inventions faded away to an insignificant province and never recovered thoroughly from the greatest disaster of our history. It could have been a German Century, the important Jewish philosopher Isaiah Berlin once said, and it has become an American Age.
Concerning Rwanda, I would prefer a better and more equal coexistence of Anglophones and Francophones. The prominent African intellectual AchilleMbembe stressed that French has become an African language with its own variations. Naturally English finds itself in a similar situation. So I would say that the predominance of English in the official, academic and scientific sectors could jeopardise the reconciliation policy that the Front PatriotiqueRwandais is committed to.
Linguistic differences could open a social gap between people returning from exile and those who remained in Rwanda.
Bilingualism and trilingualism create difficult modes of education. But the advantages are far more important than the efforts people have to make.
I would prefer a school system where the medium of instruction depends upon the previous knowledge students have. Francophone students should be educated in French, while Anglophones can be taught in English. This policy would not harm Rwanda’s integration process into the East African Community.
English whose importance is recognised by everybody would also have a better place in Rwanda, if you can reach a better, more equal coexistence of English and French. Changes in the education system have to be done smoothly and not in precipitated ways in order to prevent a collapse of institutions.
You can see the consequences in Algeria where the governments in the 1960s and 1970s tried to enforce the Arabisation by replacing French with Arabic.
Meanwhile this process was interrupted and French regained its former importance.
Reaction to the story, “Rwanda; The kaleidoscope!”, (Society Magazine, September 27)