Rwandan President Paul Kagame has revealed that the French, Catholic Missionaries and Belgium officials were responsible for fermenting genocide ideology in Rwanda that resulted in the decimation of 1 million Tutsis and moderate Hutus in Rwanda in 1994.
Speaking at the 20th Commemoration of the Genocide in Rwanda in 1994 at Amahoro Stadium today, Kagame reasoned that no Genocides take place other than from a deliberate genocide ideology.
“All genocides begin with an ideology, a system of ideas that says this group of people here are less than human and deserve to be exterminated,” Kagame started in a long speech that dealt a devastating blow to external actors who looked on as thousands of Rwandans were murdered in 1994 when his rebel group, the Rwanda Patriotic Army ( RPA) closed in on the capital Kigali.
The capture of the capital ended the genocide that had reached its 100th day perpetrated by trained ethnic Hutu militia, known as the Interahamwe, who went on a killing spree when the plane carrying the Hutu President Juvenile Habyarimana was brought down over Kanombe airport killing him, his Burundian counterpart and the entire crew on board.
“When we speak about the role of external actors, it is because genocide prevention demands responsibility of all of us. It is because we want them to have a moment of humility in the face of historical facts,” he added as he made a swipe at the country’s former colonialists.
Rwanda was colonized by Belgium but largely evangelized by French Catholic Missionaries who heavily contributed to French influence in the tiny central African nation. And the president’s remarks come at a time when Rwanda’s relations with France went to an all time low this week when France withdrew its participation from today’s events following Kagame’s accusations that the European country should take responsibility for the Rwandan genocide.
Speaking in an unusually high tone, Kagame gave their involvement in genocide a more historical punch.
“The most devastating reality of the European control of Africa and Rwanda was the transformation of social distortions into so called races. We were classified and dissected and whatever differences existed were magnified according to the framework formed elsewhere,” Kagame told an attentive audience of over 30,000 people.
He said the colonialists who designed this caste system that eventually engulfed Rwanda in 1994 had no scientific basis.
“There was no scientific basis to justify colonial claims to civilize lesser people. We are not,” he added.
He revealed that French catholic missionaries here animated all these claims with the full participation of Belgium officials and catholic institutions inventing a new history as the basis of political organization and governance of Rwanda.
“Rwanda’s 200 years were reduced to caricatures based on bible myths. The theories claimed hostility between something called ‘Hutu,’ ‘Tutsi,’ and ‘Twa,’ was permanent and necessary. This was the beginning of the genocide against the Tutsi as we saw it 20 years ago,” he said.
However, the president painted a more hopeful situation of the country and the continent.
“In Rwanda we are relying on universal human values which include our culture and traditions to find solutions for our challenges. If we find a more conclusive national identity would it be a bad thing. We didn’t need to experience genocide to become a better people. It shouldn’t simply have happened.”
Kagame, who was flanked by several regional presidents and foreign dignitaries that included UN Secretary General Ba Ki Moon, former UK Prime minister Tony Blair and the Chairperson for the African Union Commission Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, said no country in Africa or anywhere needs to become another Rwanda, but if peoples’ choices are not informed by historical clarity, the danger is ever present.
“Rwanda should not be diverted. Our approach is radical and unprecedented as the situation we faced in 1994. The instance of finding our own way comes with a price but let us stick to the course,” he warned.
Kagame warns west:
Turning to the West’s meddling in the affairs of African countries, Kagame delivered a punch.
“We know you reconcile in your countries like we do. We ask that you engage Rwanda and Africa with an open mind, accepting that our efforts are carried in good faith for the benefit of all of us,” he started.
“But for those who think that for Rwanda and Africa to be governed properly by its people requires their endorsement, that is out. We appreciate your contributions precisely because we do not feel you owe us anything,” he added.
He said Rwanda was supposed to be a failed state, could have become a permanent UN protectorate with little hope of ever becoming a nation;
“But we didn’t end up like that. What prevented these scenarios were the choices of the Rwandan people,” he said.
In a long speech delivered with a punch after punch, Kagame enumerated the hard but fundamental choices the country undertook 20 years ago.
He said the country made three fundamental choices, which have resulted in a prosperous Rwanda.
“We chose to build accountable institutions, education for our people to think big. When Rwandans liberated our country, started vision 2020, decided to make Rwanda attractive to business, invested in broadband to reach 30 districts, and became a regular contributor to UN and African union peace keeping missions, we were thinking big.
There is more hard work ahead of us than behind and we are ready,” he promised.
Speaking earlier, Mrs Zuma blamed the world for having failed Rwanda;
“We were capable but we failed Rwanda. We should all unite to say never again,” she said
Ban Ki Moon, the UN Secretary General praised the Rwandan spirit of resilience.
“Rwanda has shown the power of the human spirit. The resilience of the survivors has shown that spirit. You have shown the world that transformation is possible. Rwanda is encouraged to continue building democracy and human rights so that Rwanda can build a future for all,” he said.
The ceremony ended with a walk by the youths of Rwanda from the stadium to the national parliament, dubbed ‘walk to remember,’ together with president Kagame and the national mourning continues for a week with flags flying at half mast and businesses operating half day. Official mourning goes on for the next 100 days marking the amount of time the genocide lasted.