I have finished reading chapter 27 of Martin Meredith’s book The State of Africa and i am grateful that he as churned through history to give us a detailed episodes of what happened in during the 1994 Rwanda genocide . Coincidentally, over the weekend, while attending a meeting organized by Ashoka foundation in partnership with master card foundation I met a colleague from Rwanda who helped me understand the heinous acts that were committed by tribal bigots who were only interested in accumulating wealth with no mercy nor regard for the precious human lives. He explained to me how his father was killed because he refused to identify where his wife who was a Tutsi was hiding. What shocks me is the easy with which this people were able to kill.
How did this happen?
I can now comfortably say that the small doses of hate speech against the Tutsi by a Hutu regime heightened the anger and hunger for the Tutsi community and made it prestigious to kill. Like Victor Frankli stated in his book Man’s search for meaning, that the Hitler’s regime administered small doses of hate against the Jews until it became a accepted norm to kill a friend. This is what happened in Rwanda Genocide.
Why then do i think that this is a lesson that as Africans we need to learn? In the past recent days, in my country Kenya, we have had statements made castigating a certain people from a certain community terming them the cause of the problems faced by the country. Reading through what happened in Rwanda , i am compelled to write to let us know that those leading in this campaign are selfish and mean no good for individual community or country; instead they are seeking relevance and fame in order to secure political offices.
We should deny them what they are seeking; prestige and the god like status. We should stand and say, every one has a right to life and peace, we don’t need to be told how bad one is, and if at all there is a problem, let that person face due process of law.
When we celebrate hate mongers then we become conduits of social injustice in the society. when we open our ears to them they are shrewd, they waste no time but exploit the chance to further their culinary interest which have come to learn is to create political hegemony.
If the Rwandan people knew that they were inflicting pain and scars on themselves, they would have absconded from participating in the atrocious acts that left hundred of thousands dead others maimed. if they understood the repercussion on their children who will suffer in refugee camps, they would have hesitated contributing to eliminating their brothers and sisters. maybe they dint know ; maybe they were overwhelmed by the persuasive tongues of the dangerous crop of leaders of that regime.
History may forgive those who experienced the Rwandan Genocide; but history will not forgive us if we left our countries to plunge into anarchy again. Even after understanding the effects of calculated incitement against certain community; even after the likes of Meredith have taken their time to document what ails our continent, if we let our countries burn, our conscious will never give us peace. I pray that we find it in our hearts of hearts to guard our nationhood and humanity.