Franz Fanon in the Wretched of the Earth said, “The last battle of the colonized against the colonizer will often be the fight for the colonized against each other.”
Rwanda’s unrepentant refusal to talk with the DRC based, Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR) rebels, eat many heads up in the region. Of late, the world evidenced the tug of war between Rwanda and Tanzania after President Jakaya Kikwete proposed round-table talks. Again, despite all misunderstandings, we need to face it that the conflict in the Great Lakes needs to be dealt with. For better or for worse, nothing human is forever. For how long will we live under fear and conflicts?
Currently, the US is in dialogue with the Talibans in Afghanistan. Israel and Palestine have recently resumed peace talks. This means that any conflict, be it protracted or otherwise, can be resolved. Reconciliation is the only way forward wherever there is conflict. Rwanda as well as DRC needs to move forward given that FDLR rebels will never live in DRC forever.
I understand how Kigali feels, especially when it remembers the magnitude of the sin that FDLR committed during the 1994 genocide that wiped out about one million Rwandans, Tutsi and moderate Hutus. I know how traumatizing it is to revisit such history. Importantly though, reconciliation is inevitable shall the region aspire to have peace and prosperity. Africa’s still dependent on its former masters and other rich and developed countries. How come now that such dependent continent is embarking on creating more conflict than reducing them? Again, history is always written by survivors. Methinks Rwanda should search its soul to see to it that the conflict is solved so that life can go on and write a new history of reconciliation.
Rwanda won’t be the first country to embark on reconciliation. Blacks in South Africa suffered more than any country under the Apartheid regime. Nelson Mandela who spearheaded fight against Apartheid was jailed for long. Again, after realizing that conflict can be used constructively to avoid more destruction, Mandela was the first person to forgive Apartheid regime after understanding the way it felt about what it committed. Through talking to each other, both parts in South Africa were able to read each other’s way of looking at things. In the end, South Africa made a precedent to which almost every peace lover refers to. African sage has it that, those who fight are the ones that cooperate. No way can human beings live without differences, conflicts and all sorts of things as far as misunderstandings are concerned. On this ground, it makes sense to call upon Rwanda and FDLR rebels to talk peace, instead of harbouring hatred and vengeance. Such stance won’t solve any problem. Instead, it’ll double if not triple them.
It defies logic, for example, to presume all Hutus as genociders. How if at all those born during or after genocide did not partake in this megalomania? Hutus who did not partake in the crime feel betrayed and victimized. Those judged wholesomely feel that they’ve the duty to cleanse their names. Those born in DRC, just like those who took over after Genocide, who were born in Uganda, think that they’d go back home. This is where it boils down to scheming to deal with current Rwandan regime either peacefully or violently. This is not the situation a country is supposed to live in. Why don’t we want to learn the menacing danger refugees in Uganda caused to Rwanda? Suppose DRC stabilizes and supports FDLR to take on their home government as Uganda did? This means that another calamity is in the making. This is why it becomes inevitable for two sides to talk and reconcile. How if at all, genocide was the work of a select few in power by then? Rwandans need peace. And peace will come from reconciliation.
I know verily that Kigali would like to respect the dead. Again, as Gerard Prunier put it in his book, The Rwanda Crisis; History of Genocide, “Respect of the dead does not preclude the efforts to understand why they died.” Such take helps us to seek truth and peace in order to avoid repeating the same in the name of preserving and honouring the dead.
Prunier goes on saying that Hutus and Tutsi were not created as cats and dogs. Allowing the conflict to shrive amidst Rwandans is but faulting God’s goodwill of endowing us with higher and bigger brains that make us humans and not animals. Sometimes, due to ignorance, fear and confusion, man can commit sacrilegious things that even an animal can’t commit. Again, once this happens, sane minds must intervene. This is why the international community formed Arusha-based ICTR. This aimed at punishing the guilty and redressing the offended. Now, if ICTR and Gacaca did punish the guilty, why then presume all Hutus as killers?
After all, genocide can be said to be the product of European eugenics, especially John Speke by proxy, that created Hutus and Tutsi for their reasons of exploiting them. It is absurd and indifference to keep on, for example, calling the 1994 genocide, genocide against Tutsi. So too, it’ll be nonsensical to keep on alleging that all Hutus committed genocide. To do away from this danger, Rwanda must willingly talk to rebels instead of feeling that the international community is forcing it to talk. The upshot is those situated out of the conflict, see it better than those involved in it.
Nkwazi Mhango is a Tanzanian living in Canada. He writes regularly for “The African Executive” and also has a blog entitled “Free Thinking Unabii”. He is a regular contributor to AfroSpear.