A NEW book authored by two scholars, Rwandan Marcel Kabanda and French national Jean Pierre Chrétien, demystifies a dangerous narrative constructed by Belgian colonialists which is largely blamed for Rwanda’s tragic history.
The so-called “Hamitic Hypothesis” sought to destroy the harmony and common identity that bound the residents of the pre-colonial Rwanda, as part of the colonialists’ divide-and-rule policy.
Research shows that pre-colonial Rwanda was a highly organised, proud and centralised monarchy which was difficult for the arriving colonial machinery to break into, thus colonialists made up all sorts of wild and flawed narratives in a desperate effort to dismantle and penetrate the efficient organisational structures that existed in Rwanda.
Among them was the argument that Rwandans were divided into distinct groups with different norms and origins even as the people of Rwanda spoke the same language, shared cultural practices and lived together harmoniously in the same communities under the same chiefs.
It is this ideology that sowed the seeds of hate among Rwandans, resulting in a series of massacres and genocides, including the 1959 pogroms, the massacres of the 1960s and 70s and, ultimately, the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, in which over a million innocent people were systematically killed.
Nonetheless, the last twenty years have seen Rwandans working hard to reclaim their inherent right to define who they are and shape own destiny.
Last year, a noble initiative, Ndi Umunyarwanda, was launched with view to discarding the ethnic divisions created by colonialists and later perpetuated by their stooges, understand our history and reclaim our identity.
The programme seeks to rebuild trust among Rwandans and consolidate and protect the achievements the people of Rwanda have registered since the end of the Genocide against the Tutsi.
Indeed, Rwandans should not only embrace Ndi Umunyarwanda but should also spread its message among their peers and the younger generations. That way we will successfully discard the flawed western narratives about who we are to the dustbin of a tragic history and restore our true identity.