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Life Reflections

Last 4th July represented more than liberation

By July 6, 2018June 6th, 2023No Comments

They rose with vigour and vehemence, some trying to veil their fiery passion, others too impatient for such cautionary niceties. Our vanguard defenders, our martyrs of justice, did.

At the time, what they thought too primitive for normal humans to imagine, or saw and were ready to face, was that the invading foreigner had a knife to their throat.

And, verily, this invader controlled all instruments of death. And was ready, nay, eager to unleash them in all their forms. But when the knife struck, few knew what hit them.

Yet our hapless victims, forerunners of our justice, were claiming only what was their peoples’; our sovereign rights.

But the enslaving invader was ruthless and ready to silence the smallest voice. We euphemistically called them “colonialists” but they were enslavers with many tools, among them their foreign tongues.

Today we revisit those who came spreading the French language in particular; the French and Belgians. They were executioner ‘Eligoses’, demons of the mind and of the body.

In the Great Lakes, the first to fall under their brutal knife was our own Mutara III Rudahigwa. His father had been banished for speaking out, to die in foreign forsaken solitude, and Belgian colonialism sought to mould the young son to their will.

At maturity when Rudahigwa saw through their malevolence and spoke up, they licked him up, poisoning him with an injection in 1959.

Rwanda thus continued her hurtle into the deep, dark hole.

Our neighbour, today’s D.R. Congo, had Patrice Emery Lumumba. He spoke with fire and fury as, truly, the carnage visited upon his country by Belgian colonialism demanded. If amputations, torture, death and other forms of evil suffered by his people can pass for “colonialism”.

The fiends used Lumumba’s countryman to zip his lips for good in 1961. From then, the Congolese are in the perdition they were confined to.

In another neighbour, Burundi, Crown Prince Louis Rwagasore may not necessarily have breathed fire. But he spoke out with force and firmness against injustice wrought by Belgian colonialism.

A hired assassin’s bullet fell him in October 1961. Burundi is still stuck in the mire of those years.

Meanwhile, the French were wreaking their own havoc all over Central and Western Africa. And its effects are still holding their dominions of then in a vice, to ‘disappear’ those who stand against their influence, long after they are gone.

That hell claimed its first victim in the person of Francois Tomabalbaye of Chad in April 1975. A group of Chadian soldiers did the job in.

Next, the sword visited Marien N’Gouabi of the Congo Republic, in March 1977. A fellow countryman commando was used to assassinate him.

Then Mali’s Modibo Keita followed, after a hard and long fight, dying in the detention of a parachutist commandos’ camp in May 1977.

Despite the long and bitter struggle, amid much destruction of his country, Ahmed Sékou Touré lived through it to be 63. Only a heart attack managed to conquer him.

Every African heart bleeds at the memory of Burkina Faso’s Captain Thomas Isidore Noël Sankara. Perforce, we all grieve to think that his own comrade was the hired gun to personally see to his short-lived end, in October 1987.

The agonising war that ended in the defeat of France by Algeria is one of triumph. Ahmed Ben Bella’s central but tormented role in it is well documented. That he could live through it to attain the age of 96 in April 2012 was a triumph in itself.

An apt point to cast our eye back to Rwanda that we left, a few paragraphs up, plunging into the abyss, egged on by Belgian colonialism.

Well, by 1990, France had come in to give a hand to Belgium in making sure her (Rwanda’s) flag independence was worse than her Belgian colonialism. Where Belgium had fractured her society to shreds and made fissures so wide that Rwandans would never be glued together again, France set out to train sections of the society to wipe out another section that was their own, too.

The intended effect was to give the plunge into the chasm more momentum.
And this almost came to pass. Then a ragtag small band of Rwandan patriots materialised from thin air, as it were, to say “Gasopo (stop)!”

But abomination of all abominations: some in that RPF/A nucleus were English-speaking!

Yet another blasphemy of blasphemies: the more diplomatic alliances tied, death squads galvanised and the war material unleashed on them, the stronger this ragtag group grew.

To cut a very long story to a phrase, Rwanda sank to “the place with no name”, the Genocide against the Tutsi is the place. And, defying those insurmountable odds, odds that none of the said countries above had seen, she emerged stronger than she has been before, in her long, convoluted history.

Today, only memorial sites can convince that she was killed and rose from the dead.
The leadership that has led Rwandans to the smart place of this day, as I’ll sing till yours ears ache, is a phenomenon that begs to be studied.

Last Wednesday, July 4th, represented more than a liberation day. Much more.

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