25 YEARS LATER

To move on, Rwanda must establish root cause of genocide

Forgiving, forgetting and reconciling are easier said than done

In Summary

• They should learn from the mass murders in choosing future leaders.

• Just choosing leaders is not enough, they should take the extra step of finding out why the genocide happened. 

A file photo of skulls displayed at Kigali Genocide Memorial in Rwanda
PREVENT HISTORY FROM REPEATING ITSELF: A file photo of skulls displayed at Kigali Genocide Memorial in Rwanda
Image: MONICAH MWANGI

The people of Rwanda are commemorating the genocide that claimed the lives of close to one million Rwandese within 100 days in 1994.

Contemporary historians know that the 1994 genocide was not the first. Others occurred in the 1950s and past decades. That is why specific tribes of Rwanda and Burundi (Nyarwandas) are citizens of nearly all East and Central African countries and the rest of the world. The future of Rwanda lies in the hands of its own citizens and the leadership they chose to have.

They can choose to have as many genocides as they want if the past is not enough lesson. No man on earth will stop Rwandese citizens from slaughtering one another if that is the way they chose to live. To forget, forgive and reconcile are verbs easier said than done in a county where one ethnic group slaughtered their immediate neighbours twenty-five years ago.

Those verbs and gestures are temporarily good enough for the foreseeable future but the Rwandese and their leadership need to go an extra step. In the history of states, 25 years of relative tranquillity is nothing to write about. The only way Rwanda can escape possible future genocides is by thoroughly investigating and addressing the root cause of all past mass massacres and genocides. They should go beyond commissions of inquiry. Rwanda must also lay concrete foundations for future democratic, fundamental and peaceful transition. The arrest and detention of a young girl and her family who wanted to challenge President Paul Kagame during the last elections are signs of bad things to expect in volatile Rwanda soon. The girl was only released after elections which speaks volumes of hard lessons if any,  not learnt from 1994.

Kisumu