During our recent trip to East Africa we could allocate 2 weeks for the holidays keeping family, business, professional and all other requirements in place or less disturbed.
The purpose of tour was to have some idea about the so called Dark Continent, to enjoy few Safari tours to see rich and versatile wild life of Africa and of course to have an idea about the history, culture, architecture, etc as much could be grabbed within such a short period.
While I was doing home work on the trip, it occurred to me that it would be a crime for me not to include Rwanda in the tour for a little fact finding about the Genocide that took place there not very long ago.
In the recent past two such barbaric Genocides were able to attract proper attention of the World Community and were addressed to more or less in acceptable manner. About the Cambodian Genocide I have written in this column a few months ago. So, before I start writing on lighter aspects of our trip like Safari tour, I thought I should share the experience gathered in Kigali about the Rwanda Genocide. Here we go:
It is known to the whole world that in the Genocide, one of the ugliest one in the world within a period of 100 days approximately one Million Tutsis were massacred by the Hutus. Besides killing, arson, looting, raping went on rampantly.
We also knew that the perpetrators were taken to task by international community. That's about all. Let me elaborate a little beyond this shallow idea about this Genocide. Genocides are one of the worst vices carried out by mankind and they need more attention of the International Community.
Many a Genocide, even one of the worst Genocides in the history of the world during the birth of our beloved nation in which we lost 3 million lives in less than 9 months besides other forms of atrocities and destruction, is yet to be recognised as a Genocide by the United Nations through most of the communities of the World and specially the well informed, open minded, history loving, progressive citizens and Academicians all over the world are aware of our plight during that turmoil and recognize that we were subjected to unjust brutal massacre and have all sympathies to us.
Our struggle is still on to obtain International recognition of Bangali massacre in 1971 as a Genocide carried out by Pakistani Authorities. But we will discuss further about that on a different occasion and focus on Rwanda for the time being.
We know that the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda was carried on by the Hutus against the Tutsis. Most of us do not know much about these ethnicities or the history behind the heinous crime committed by the Hutus.
Actually there is a lot of controversies about whether there is much difference between them and whether really they were two distinctly different ethnicities. Some Anthropologists believe that Tutsis are descendants of a Nylotic tribe who have arrived from the highland of Ethiopia and relocated themselves in present day Rwanda, Burundi, DR Congo, Tanzania and adjacent areas. Hutus were the original inhabitants of Rwanda and Burundi.
But this migration happened about a thousand years ago and they were assimilated in the society by intermingling with locals for so long. Though they may be classified in general a little taller and with sharper features of face, everything else was common.
Language, culture, customs and appearance in general was all same or very similar. The difference was in percentage of population and economy. In Rwanda the Hutus comprised of 85% of the population where the Tutsis only were 14% balance 1% being others.
But economically they differed a lot. Being more intelligent and laborious, they were economically much more solvent and occupied better position in the society and leadership. Over centuries they lived together side by side more or less peacefully except for the strife in economic interests. There was never a big dispute between them over centuries.
The more or less harmonious Rwandese Kingdom ruled from Kigali (present capital) area was doing okay in their own humble way until the greed of European Colonialists engulfed the region. Nearby Congo had rich mineral deposits and Diamonds in its mines and like all of Africa this area was also rich in Timber. After a brief period of German rule both Congo and Rwanda came under Belgian occupation and became fertile grounds of their colonial exploitation.
It was the Belgians who for the benefit of their rule and exploitation decided to play an effective tool: Divide and Rule Policy. As mentioned earlier Tutsis were better adopted to learning and being more accommodative and intelligent they were better off than most of the Hutus.
This continued during the Belgian rule and most of the high and better position in the colonial administration, business and other activities were filled up by them. Belgians started propagating the idea that Tutsis and Hutus were different ethnicities and instigated the Hutus that they were being deprived by Tutsis.
During their rule the Belgians used this Divide and rule policy to distract most of the Rwandese population from their heinous colonial activities.
Rather they tried to keep their subjects busy fighting amongst themselves. Though not directly related to todays topics, it may not be out of place to mention here that the Belgian Parliament has very recently apologised to Rwanda people and Rwandese women for their own cruelty to women and children during their colonial occupation.
This reminds us that the question of Apology by any power (specially country) for its misdeed is never time barred and we in our turn should keep on working for a final Apology from Pakistan for their different misdeeds during their Neo-colonial exploitation and specially 1971 Genocide.
Coming back to our point we find that the Rwandese people that lived peacefully for centuries were divided into Hutus and Tutsis by the Belgians and they fell prey to this evil design. Much like Hindus and Muslims of British India were played into becoming bitter enemies of each other when they started fighting against British imperialism for Independence and self rule.
The rivalry grew so much that in 1959 the first big time civil commotion and riots between the Hutus and Tutsis broke out claiming approximately 20000 Tutsi lives. Many Tutsis fled to Congo, Uganda, Tanzania and Burundi, the neighbouring territories. Peace between the two sects was not to come about soon.
Meantime due to worldwide movement against Colonialism and Imperialism and National movement for freedom, the Belgians left Congo and Rwanda in 1962. Hutus came to power in independent Rwanda. Though Tutsis still held many high positions in different sectors of Politics, business and economy.
Hutus became rulers and the rift between the two sects or groups became permanent and they themselves started believing that they were two ethnicities though culture, food, religion, language, custom, all aspects of life were same amongst them. The infight, though unequal, continued and Tutsis who fled first in 1959 to neighbouring countries started swelling in numbers and insurgency movement started.
In Uganda, an immediate neighbour of Rwanda, Musoveni came to power after a short interim government following fall of Idi Amin.
He emerged as the strongman and is still ruling the country with Iron hand. He being a good friend of Paul Kagami, the present President of Rwanda, a Tutsi leader, offered safe heaven to his friend Kagami's movement Rwandan Patriotic Front. RPF being a Tutsi outfit started movement in Rwanda for the right of the Tutsis and started forming an Army in the jungles of Uganda with Musovainis support.
By 1990 Paul Kagami could manage to forge a strong armed group. Operating from the jungles of Uganda his Army started capturing areas in the jungles of Rwanda and by 1993 good chunk of Rwandese territory to the North of Kigali up to the Uganda border came under his army's control.
The writer is acolumnist and political commentator.
Leave Your Comments