Reference is made to Paul Ntambara’s article, “Living with the question “Are you Hutu or Tutsi?” (The New Times, May 5).
This is a great article by any measure. I have always been asked the same question in at least a couple of countries I have been to. Now the challenge is that the questioners believe that saying you are Rwandan is a code we have adopted through the process of reconciliation, because to them, Tutsi means the good guys and Hutu means the bad guys -- which is completely wrong.
So let us give them a background to our response as well. The so-called ethnic groups are totally not qualified to be called so due to the complete list of factors that makes an ethnic identity.
One friend of mine from Rwanda once told me that he has had to tell people with similar questions, that he believes, in his lifetime he has been through all those groups, Twa, Hutu and Tutsi and he is not sure he won’t go back again as long as he lives.
He based his answer on the historical lessons we have all learnt about the economic attachment to these names. He says, he comes from a Tutsi family that has some economic status and lives in Kigali but some of his relatives are Hutu because they are cultivators and earn much of their living on land.
That at the age of five, his family was so poor that they never even owned land but just a small house in the village and sometimes he used to eat wild fruits for lunch. At that point in life he was Twa, he said.
Funny as it might sound; this might hold some water on that whole theory of Rwanda’s ethnic dilemma and the truth about that fact that we are all only defined by being Rwandan.
The struggle to assert our true identity was tarnished by our own dirty past of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, something that we live to always explain what really happened and how. But it’s fact that we are naturally born Rwandan with same language, traditional values and beliefs – Umunyarwanda is what each one of us is.
Fellow Rwandans, I believe that talking about our past, the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and how it happened, is part of reconciling the nation and healing mostly to many that were directly affected.
However, I am of the view that the Rwanda of today cannot afford to copy from its past for the wrong reasons other than for creating a country that’s free from any genocide ideologies, a new Rwanda that must seek to invest more and to expect more out of every Rwandan as far as development of the country and Africa in general is concerned.
As much as the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi hurt Rwanda, it also put Rwanda on the world map in exemplifying how bad ideologies can destroy a country, but, most importantly, the Genocide gives Rwanda a chance to be an example of how a country can rise from such fatal ideologies to rebuild, reconcile and develop.
CMK, United States