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The New Times

November 25, 2022

Looking at Rwanda’s recent history is like hurtling down an endless hole whose sides are lined with spikes that tear at every centimetre of your body. You want to shut your mind to it, never revisit it.  But we must remember this country’s past or know it, those who did not live it. Or else, how shall we prevent the evil past from recurring?

It’s remembering the agonizingly unimaginable. How colonialists convinced some in a closely knit family, our society, that they had nothing in common, however long it took, boggles the mind.

But there was worse.

Assisted by colonialists, these convinced Rwandans set upon their own brethren/sistren with frenzied slaughter, maiming, ejection from motherland, other hitherto unfathomable insanities. Victims’ houses were put to arson and those spared were packed into concentration halls to later be sardine-parked in lorries and dumped in the Rwandan Siberia, tsetse-infested Bugesera.

Those who survived the tsetse menace were periodically picked for butchery. For the negligible number who escaped this carnage, it’d prove to be no consolation, either.

Meanwhile, as the years of abuse ticked towards the fortieth needle-number, gallant youths in exile could not accept to watch this desecration of their erstwhile respected society lying down. They formed the RPF/A to rally together all Rwandans, wherever they were without aforesaid segregation, to launch a liberation struggle that’d restore Rwandans’ honour.

Alas, worse was awaiting

As the RPF/A was at the cusp of delivering the liberation, another unthinkable happened. If our society had any shred of honour left, the Genocide against the Tutsi put paid to it. Rwandans became the sick man of the world, the lost society.

The RPF/A gallants had not put their lives on the line and offered their blood to stop at the threshold of the “lost society” recovery, though. They went further to put a halt to the abomination. Rwandans had to regain their honour, cost what it may.

July 4, 1994, came and liberation was delivered. The day of our societal rupture, November 1, 1959, was buried in the dustbin of history and its proponents silenced.

Or so we side-line watchers thought! Gullible us, who’d have thought worse was still afoot!

As President Kagame revealed Sunday before last, division supporters were busy burrowing into the liberation culmination to put every unity effort asunder.

As example, what began as a non-entity, though respected as a Rwandan, seeking audience with then Vice-President and Minister for Defence Paul Kagame turned out to be others’ trump-card. It was seized upon by the VP’s own colleagues to ‘re-kick-start’ their defeated division campaign.

That Chui visitor, a layabout in exile was regarded by all as an insult to his father, a true struggler for the unity and independence of Rwandans. What was he up to, visiting the man responsible for fulfilling his father’s dream?

Little did we know he was that trump-card for the modern-day advocates of the 1950s division.

As President Kagame continued to reveal, the Chui visitor claimed to have inherited the political party, UNAR, formerly assigned by the backers of division to the time’s vilified group. So, he was here to demand his property: the vilified Rwandans of yesteryears, as adherents of UNAR!

Surprise, surprise! The clamour for UNAR inclusion in the post-1994 government of unity was on the agenda of a cabinet meeting. President of the Republic, RPF chairman, internal affairs minister, justice minister, etc., hollering for it, really? The VP looked each one in the eye, especially the RPF secretary general who’d been active participant in the past upheavals, and asked them to repeat what they’d said. After all the blood of Rwandans spilt to correct that past? Really?

But they’d seen it and knew better than to cross it. This was the red line!

And yet, believe it or not, there was worse to come.

The VP/MOD was for a whole week, day and night, combing the south-western region of Rwanda to root out elements responsible for insecurity. He took time to also warn insurgents across the border to beware, their lairs we not inaccessible. After a week of no sleep, he arrived back in Kigali. To take a shut-eye? No, sir!

A cabinet meeting was in session. He made an about-turn and headed for the cabinet meeting, only to find himself an item on the agenda. Chorus: “Yes, internal affairs minister (charged with internal security!), can you brief us?”  Minister: “It’s massacres in the south-west. RPA troops, Kagame troops, are massacring our citizens!”

The VP/MOD, flabbergasted, though not totally: “Minister, what was that again? Do you know where I am coming from? VP, a killer? MOD, a killer? RPA, a killer? Me, half of my life narrow survivor trying to save lives, a killer?”

There are myriad such Rwandan spear-pricks. Now think of the western media’s, foreign organisations’, governments’, etc., daily insults and tell me. One who weathers these torments and keeps as sober-minded as at the very beginning, are they made out of the same stuff as we are?

Indeed, for the good of our future, we must strive to always go down that snake-hole and brave the dreadful stings of those snake fangs, if it takes that to keep us alert and ready.

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