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Life Reflections

The RPF/A has bent over backwards so hard, it’s a wonder its back has never snapped

By April 16, 2022June 6th, 2023No Comments

April 15, 2022

Even as the commemoration week ends, there is a part of the commemoration that we must never leave unmentioned. We must always remember the excruciating pain felt by the force that found itself face to face with this humungous evil and had the immeasurable burden to halt it.

The RPF/A was a group formed by marginalised citizens put to all sorts of abuse by a succession of regimes, all of which denied them any right. They had banished some to forever live as stateless wanderers; others as second class – if not ‘no-class’ – citizens in their country; yet others in an internal tsetse-infested no-man’s-land concentration camp, Bugesera.

Those inside the country were there seemingly for convenient elimination. Most were periodically liquidated at the slightest excuse, from 1959 to 1993.

The RPF/A’s aim was to therefore negotiate for the rights of all citizens. Peacefully first and foremost but, if impossible, apply some forceful persuasion. Which was the reason for that “A” affixed to the “RPF” – an armed wing.

Among other aims, the RPF/A’s principal drive was to implant the resolve to birth a united, future-focused, own-resource-harnessing, integration-and-investment-driving efforts, all aimed at building a respected, prosperous society at peace with all and one among respected countries.

What they hadn’t bargained for was an altogether unfathomable dilemma. An encounter with maniacal fiends apparently from an alien planet; slayer demons that were on an incomprehensible killing spree of innocent kin and kith of all ages.

Commander Paul Kagame of the then armed wing, RPA, looked at two incidents of the atrocious carnage and resolved not to check them out again.

Today, President Kame explains he didn’t want to cloud his focus on the aim of the struggle: the unity of Rwandans and the transformation of Rwanda. Whatever the horror, these were paramount.

The iron will not to be deviated from the resolve of leading this transformation, in the face of this bloodbath, I doubt anybody on this ‘laisser-faire’ earth leading any struggle has had to forge.

“‘Laisser-faire’ earth” in the sense of where leaders base solutions on sentiments.

Because, in the case of Rwanda in the grip of the Genocide against the Tutsi, we are talking about this: you get to a village and notice a frenzied green-banana-leaves donning crowd at a distance that seems to have made a killing after a hunt.

Once closer, you behold men with bloodied nail-studded knobkerries repeatedly knocking the heads of their already dead victims. On the side, likewise donned youths are busy hacking at women whom, clearly, they are just done, gang-raping.

Next to them, similarly clothed women are holding babies and children by their tiny legs and are continually knocking their heads against house walls.

They’ve just tossed foetuses disembowelled from pregnant mothers to their children to equally knock against walls. Nearby, vultures are picking at the bloodied heads of men, women and children buried in the ground up to their necks.

You are an RPA liberator with an AK-47 rapid-fire gun that can mow down this whole ghastly mob in a sec. Your blood is boiling up to spilling but PC’s words ring out loud and clear in your head: “Mukiwa wauaji kama wale tunaopambana nao, tofauti kati yenu nao itakuwa ipi?”

Commander Kagame, fondly known as PC, had led them in carrying out seemingly impossible manoeuvres that had seen them make advancements in unbearable situations and, so, they heeded his words. Indeed, revenge killings would make liberators look like these brutish products of a failed state.

The liberator looked at his/her freshly butchered family, some direct parents and siblings, and wept wildly but held back. The génocidaires who’d frozen at his sight expected instant death but only saw the liberator shoot in the air to scatter them.

The aim of the struggle was succinct: the unity of Rwandans. If he/she killed these génocidaires, the shame of betraying the cause would make him/her kill himself/herself. Yet liberators were few and all Rwandans depended on them.  

The UN had ‘rescued’ its own forces; the international community had no interest in a tiny, remote band of expendable blacks. No, the euphoria over the end of Apartheid in South Africa had nothing to do with their inaction; nor the US humiliation in Somalia. Simply, Rwanda belonged to one of their own to do with her what it wanted. She was a tiny “pré carré français” and that was that.

Yet, against all these insurmountable likelihoods, the RPF/A overcame. And built reconciliation and unity among its people and sought cooperation with countries that were formerly forces ranged against it!

But, of course, it had punctured some big-power egos. These are superpowers, no less, and, no, shame does not sit comfortably with them. Mud must thus be smeared.

Dictatorship, autocracy, iron-fisted rule, poor human rights record (despite the rare heart of welcoming anybody rejected by everybody – e.g. from Libya and soon the UK), the whole book. But no sweat, Rwanda sees them all and takes them in her stride.

In Rwanda, having been witness to how the RPF/A has bent over backwards so hard to accommodate all these abuses and let them wash off, it’s a wonder to us how its back has never been broken. 

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