The main psychological characteristic of the ruling Tutsi bourgeoisie in Rwanda and their hostages is a mix of ethnic supremacism and the mindset of a community besieged and constantly under threat. Here is why I disagree with folks who say we have a minority Tutsi regime.
In Rwanda today, there is no real class awareness. An individual easily passes overnight from the wealthiest condition to the poorest, ‘expelled’ from the class and branded an FDLR collaborator or a genocide negationist depending on his/her allegiance to the reigning autocrat. Their sense of belonging to a class is non-existent. Basically, like in pre-independence days, a Tutsi can be Hutufied while a Hutu is Tutsified. In such a setting, identity ceases to matter.
These Tutsi elites are conscious that what they possess can vanish in a wink without prior notice. Because of this characteristic, they tend to see the whole society through the lenses of their own fate, negate the existence of class stratification and class contradictions in the Rwandan society and feel comfortable in their ideological confusion. Unconsciously, they have accelerated the threat, rather than mitigate it.
In these Tutsis, there are those who fought in the struggle for “liberation” but are now declared FDLR. There are those who were in Nairobi or London during the struggle and are eating big while those who lost their legs are living in squalor in casualty ‘camps’.
There are those assured of an MBA on a tax payer’s money while others can’t afford secondary schooling. There are those who have been killed as if they belong to somewhere. There are those who go to offices with chits for which kind of jobs they want from their uncles or fathers while some get to the point of developing holes in their shoes looking for jobs.
Unseem by many, it is not only the Hutus who crave for justice. Even some Tutsis do. Cases of genocide suspects who have been shielded from the long arm of the law by the RPF government for political reasons abound- an act that constitutes a crime of genocide trivialization but for which no RPF leader is yet to be held accountable
What Kagame is doing is dictating memory- Tutsi as victims and Hutus as perpetrators- yet forgets that in either side of equation, we have both the victims and perpetrators. ”The experience of others has taught us that nations that do not deal with their past are haunted by it for generations”, remarked Nelson Mandela, in “After Such Crimes, What Forgiveness?”
Fear of the majority
The reason RPF agents want to associate Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza with hate is the fear they have for the Hutus. They are afraid of the unknown. They are afraid of a Hutu majority again. Do I share the fears of majority dominance? I certainly do, honestly- but I indict the present leadership in Kigali for not mitigating the threat. They have instead accelerated it.
This brings us to how we, Tutsis, miss a point that our grand children shall pay in kind. With the present political-legal environment, you wouldn’t be off the mark to anticipate a revenge should the Hutus be in power at some time in future. You may think it won’t happen, but it certainly will.
When Ingabire Victoire Umuhoza, remarked that the Hutu victims who were killed during the war and genocide should as well be remembered, she expected to open a debate on the country’s past contrary to the official narrative forwarded by Kigali, only to end up as a victim.
If there is one thing that sparks serious disagreements is the correct version of our history. You have Hutu mistreatment before 1957, Tutsi mistreatment and genocide, and Tutsi (RPA) war crimes and that amount to genocide as well. To bring these people together, you need to allow them to speak about their past. Allow them to question narratives, talk about their suffering, relieve their pain, and chart a common destiny together.
Under the present circumstances, any attempt to re-examine the roots of the genocide becomes extremely problematic. Any slightest deviation from the official narrative warrants indictment on grounds of divisionism, discrimination or sectarianism.
The cumulative pressures of government coercion, fear of the other, pragmatism combine to make amnesia the preferred option -pretending peace has become the norm. At the center of the problem is that the exclusion of Hutu memory for the sake of a dictated unifying official memory can never bring the people of Rwanda any closer to national reconciliation, or, at the very least, peaceful co-habitation.
Didas Gasana is a career journalist and former Managing editor of the Kigali- based Rwanda Independent Media Group, now working as an independent freelance writer with special emphasis on Rwanda and The Great Lakes Region. He can be reached by email at [email protected]