Posts from — April 2014
Museveni’s speech during the 20th Rwanda Genocide commemoration – 07/04/2014.
H.E. President Kagame,
H.E. the First Lady
Y.E’s the Head of States and Government,
Leaders of delegations,
Ladies and Gentlemen.
I greet you and convey to Your Excellencies and the People of Rwanda the greetings of the People of Uganda.
Rwanda, along with Burundi, Uganda, parts of North Western Tanzania, Eastern Congo, Western Kenya, is part of the Great Lakes area that has, since several millennia, been occupied by the inter-lacustrine Bantus, Nilotics, Nilo-Hamitic and the Sudanic peoples. The Rwanda people themselves are Bantu, part of the inter-lacustrine Bantus.
This area of the Great Lakes is unique because it had a quite advanced level of centralisation, civilisation and state formation (kingdoms and chiefdoms); advanced agriculture and livestock industry; unique industrial practices such as the processing of bananas into alcohol and juice, the milk industry, the cereals of sorghum and millet and their derivatives, etc., etc.; the science of converting iron-ore (obutare) into iron was also advanced ― totally vertically integrated ― as was the workings on other metals such as brass (emiringa), copper (ekikomo), etc., etc. There was also the unique technology of making textiles out of the ficus trees (emitooma).
In the socio-economic spheres, a feudal system was sitting atop symbiotic societies of agriculturalists (abahinzi), cattle keepers (aborozi), craftsmen such as blacksmiths (abaheesi), Wood workers (ababaizi), pottery workers (ababumbyi), textile workers for bark cloth (embugu, ebitooma) known as abakomagyi, leather workers (abaremi), etc. and professionals such as medicine men, magicians, musicians, etc.
At the top, the system could be parasitic where the kings and other rulers could expropriate property from citizens (kunyaga), do partial expropriation (kunogora), practice obuhakye – a form of serfdom, Kibooko etc.
The rulers could also take tribute (emitoijo, amatuuro in Kinyarwanda) from the ordinary people. At the base of the society, however, the system was symbiotic with the different groups specialising in crops, livestock, fishing (abajubi), seamen (abarimbi), craftsmen (as already narrated), medicine men (abampfumu, abaraguzi) and, then, exchanging products (okuchurika) ― barter trade ― with one another.
It is, therefore, a historic crime that external forces, working with local traitors, could turn a symbiotic society into the theatre of the most fiendish reactionary crimes – genocide.
To the credit of one of the Kings, Rudahigwa, he had abolished ubuhake and Kibooko. He also enforced sharing of economic resources (cows and land) between chiefs and ordinary people, both Hutu and Tutsi.
Unfortunately, he was assassinated as was Prince Louis Rwagasore of Burundi. Rudahigwa and Rwagasore were patriots and Pan-Africanists. That is why the parasitic forces grew desperate and started using sectarianism, assassinations and genocide. All that did not save those traitors. Where they still exist, it is on account of the mistakes of the International community.
Trade, within the Great Lakes and between the Great Lakes and the Coast of the Indian Ocean, was booming although inconvenienced by the greed of the egotistical chiefs on the trade routes. Ruswaruura of Bujinja distinguished himself in that skill of extorting “hongo” – tax from travelers. The benevolent Kings like Rumanyika, Oruguundu, of Karagwe, on the other hand, encouraged the travelers and traders and assisted them. The fatal weakness of the Chiefs and Kings of that time was the failure to see the wisdom of political integration.
Although the Europeans spent about 400 years at the coast of the Indian Ocean before they had the capacity (automatic weapons, the steam engine and quinine) to penetrate in the interior of the continent, the myopic kings and chiefs, engrossed in self glorification and, sometimes, tyranny, could not see the wisdom of political integration in order to defend themselves against the strangers (the Bazungu) that were frequenting the coast of East Africa ever since 1498 when Vasco Da Gama went around the Cape of Good Hope.
Eventually, that ego-centrism of our kings and chiefs proved fatal. Once the Europeans had used the 4 centuries to advance themselves in technology, they called the Congress of Berlin in 1884 to partition Africa among the British, the French, the Germans, the Portuguese, the Spanish and the Dutch in South Africa. Except for Ethiopia, the whole of Africa was conquered. This was a big shame for Africa.
That interaction with Europe came with the slave trade, mass killings, imported epidemics of small pox and other diseases, colonialism and the looting of our natural resources. When Africa joined the worldwide anti-colonial struggle, along with India, Indonesia, Indo-China, China, parts of Latin America and some parts of the Middle East, assisted by the socialist countries (the Soviet Union, China, Cuba, etc.), also assisted by the wars among the imperialist countries (1st and 2nd World Wars), we regained our freedom. This made certain circles among the imperialists very desperate. That is how they launched the criminal schemes of genocide, mass killings, assassinations of prominent political leaders, the secession schemes of Katanga and Biafra, etc., etc.
Rwanda, one of the most highly centralised indigenous states, fell a victim to these schemes. A bankrupt pseudo-ideology of dividing the People of Rwanda, who have got a common language and culture, was hatched and promoted in the form of sectarianism. While there could have been antagonistic relations between the rulers (Abanyiginya and other nobles) and the people, there could be no antagonistic relations between ordinary Batutsi and Bahutu.
Those groups had a symbiotic relationship that I have talked about above. Specialisation in production and, then, exchange of products. You could not have an ordinary Mututsi extorting tribute from an ordinary Muhutu. It is only the rulers that would take tribute (amatuuro) from both the Tutsis and Hutus. Using their military force (e.g. Kakomankongyi – helicopters), the Colonialists supported a criminal sectarian group of Gregoire Kayibanda whom they had trained in their Seminaries in Europe, to take power and launch the first genocide of 1959 to 1963. That genocide, apart from killing hundreds of thousands, produced a Tutsi diaspora that, eventually, numbered one million. The reactionary regime told these people that they could not go back to their Country because it was over-crowded. When that bankrupt group was challenged by the RPF, their answer was genocide. In spite of killing one million people, the traitor criminal regime could not defeat the revolutionary forces. They fled to link up with their ideological colleague – Mobutu Sese Seko of Congo – Kinshasa.
That is the tragic story of Rwanda, of Burundi, of Congo, of Uganda, of Sudan etc. – where local reactionaries link up with the foreign parasitic interests to cause haemmorhage of life, on an unimaginable scale in Africa and do so with impunity.
I want to congratulate the People of Rwanda and the RPF for defeating these traitors and ensuring that they will never come back to kill the People of Rwanda again. We all can witness the economic growth in Rwanda and its stabilisation. As a veteran patriot of this area, I would like to warn those who hobnob with the genocidaires to know that they will have to contend with the patriotic forces that defeated the traitors with their external backers when they were still much weaker. We are now much stronger in every sense of the word: politically, militarily, socially and economically. The People of Rwanda should know that they can always count on the People of Uganda. Uganda is steadfast in the support for African emancipation.
Again, I congratulate the RPF for defeating the traitors. I call them traitors because they created unprincipled and pseudo contradictions among the Banyarwanda. It is good that you have transcended that phase by relying on patriotism to defeat sectarianism.
I wish you continued prosperity.
I thank you.
April 8, 2014 No Comments
Speech by President Paul Kagame
20th Commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi
Kigali, 7 April 2014
• Excellencies Heads of State and Government;
• Excellency Secretary-General of the United Nations;
• Excellency Chairperson of the African Union Commission;
• Former Heads of State and Government;
• Distinguished Government Officials from around the world;
• Esteemed Guests;
• My Fellow Rwandans:
I don’t have enough words to express my appreciation to all our friends, who have come from near and far to be with us, on a day as important as this. I also thank all of those who have stood with us in Rwanda’s incredible journey of rebuilding.
We are gathered here to remember those who lost their lives in the Genocide and comfort those who survived.
As we pay tribute to the victims, both the living and those who have passed, we also salute the unbreakable Rwandan spirit, to which we owe the survival and renewal of our country.
To our parents, children, brothers, and sisters who survived — to Rwandans who defied the call to genocide and to those who give voice to their remorse — it is you who bear the burden of our history.
We have pursued justice and reconciliation as best we could. But it does not restore what we lost.
Time and again these past twenty years, Rwandans have given of themselves. You have stood before the community to bear witness and listened to others do the same. You have taken responsibility and you have forgiven.
Your sacrifices are a gift to the nation. They are the seed from which the new Rwanda grows. Thank you for allowing your humanity and patriotism to prevail over your grief and loss. Thank you very much.
Historical clarity is a duty of memory that we cannot escape. Behind the words “Never Again”, there is a story whose truth must be told in full, no matter how uncomfortable.
The people who planned and carried out the Genocide were Rwandans, but the history and root causes go beyond this country. This is why Rwandans continue to seek the most complete explanation possible for what happened.
We do so with humility as a nation that nearly destroyed itself. But we are nevertheless determined to recover our dignity as a people.
Twenty years is short or long depending on where you stand but there is no justification for false moral equivalence. The passage of time should not obscure the facts, lessen responsibility, or turn victims into villains.
People cannot be bribed into changing their history. And no country is powerful enough, even when they think that they are, to change the facts. After all, les faits sont têtus.
Therefore, when we speak out about the roles and responsibilities of external actors and institutions, it is because genocide prevention demands historical clarity of all of us, not because we wish to shift blame onto others.
All genocides begin with an ideology — a system of ideas that says: This group of people here, they are less than human and they deserve to be exterminated.
The most devastating legacy of European control of Rwanda was the transformation of social distinctions into so-called “races”. We were classified and dissected, and whatever differences existed were magnified according to a framework invented elsewhere.
The purpose was neither scientific nor benign, but ideological: to justify colonial claims to rule over and “civilise” supposedly “lesser” peoples. We are not.
This ideology was already in place in the 19th century, and was then entrenched by the French missionaries who settled here. Rwanda’s two thousand years of history were reduced to a series of caricatures based on Bible passages and on myths told to explorers.
The colonial theory of Rwandan society claimed that 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 twenty years ago.
With the full participation of Belgian officials and Catholic institutions, this invented history was made the only basis of political organisation, as if there was no other way to govern and develop society.
The result was a country perpetually on the verge of genocide.
However, Africans are no longer resigned to being hostage to the world’s low expectations. We listen to and respect the views of others. But ultimately, we have got to be responsible for ourselves.
In Rwanda, we are relying on universal human values, which include our culture and traditions, to find modern solutions to our unique challenges.
Managing the diversity in our society should not be seen as denying the uniqueness of every Rwandan. If we succeed in forging a new, more inclusive national identity, would it be a bad thing?
We did not need to experience genocide to become a better people. It simply should never have happened.
No country, in Africa or anywhere else, ever needs to become “another Rwanda”. But if a people’s choices are not informed by historical clarity, the danger is ever present.
This is why I say to Rwandans — let’s not get diverted. Our approach is as radical and unprecedented as the situation we faced.
The insistence on finding our own way sometimes comes with a price. Nonetheless, let’s stick to the course.
To our friends from abroad — I believe you value national unity in your own countries, where it exists. Where it doesn’t, you are working to build it, just as we are.
We ask that you engage Rwanda and Africa with an open mind, accepting that our efforts are carried out in good faith for the benefit of all of us.
We want you to know that we appreciate your contributions, precisely because we do not feel you owe us anything.
Rwanda was supposed to be a failed state.
Watching the news today, it is not hard to imagine how we could have ended up.
We could have become a permanent U.N. protectorate, with little hope of ever recovering our nationhood.
We could have allowed the country to be physically divided, with groups deemed incompatible assigned to different corners.
We could have been engulfed in a never-ending civil war with endless streams of refugees and our children sick and uneducated.
But we did not end up like that. What prevented these alternative scenarios was the choices of the people of Rwanda.
After 1994, everything was a priority and our people were completely broken.
But we made three fundamental choices that guide us to this day.
One — we chose to stay together.
When the refugees came home — we were choosing to be together.
When we released genocide suspects in anticipation of Gacaca — we were choosing to be together.
When we passed an inclusive constitution that transcends politics based on division and entrenched the rights of women as full partners in nation-building, for the first time — we were choosing to be together.
When we extended comprehensive new education and health benefits to all our citizens — we were choosing to be together.
Two — we chose to be accountable to ourselves.
When we decentralise power and decision-making into the towns and hills across the country — we are being accountable.
When we work with development partners to ensure that their support benefits all our citizens — we are being accountable.
When we award scholarships and appoint public servants based on merit, without discrimination — we are being accountable.
When we sanction an official, no matter how high-ranking, who abuses their power or engages in corruption — we are being accountable.
As a result, our citizens expect more from government, and they deserve it.
Three — we chose to think big.
When Rwandans liberated our country — we were thinking big.
When we created Rwanda’s Vision 2020 and committed to meeting our development goals — we were thinking big.
When we decided to make Rwanda attractive for business — we were thinking big.
When we invested in a broadband network that reaches all our 30 districts — we were thinking big.
When we became a regular contributor to United Nations and African Union peacekeeping missions — we were thinking big.
We may make mistakes, like every country does. We own up and learn and move forward.
There is more hard work ahead of us than behind us. But Rwandans are ready.
A few years ago, at a commemoration event, I met a young man who was one of the twelve people pulled alive from under 3,000 bodies in a mass grave at Murambi.
He still lived nearby, totally alone. When the perpetrators he recognised came home from prison, he was understandably terrified.
When I asked him how he managed, he told me: “I could not do it unless I was convinced that these impossible choices are leading us somewhere better.”
Twenty years ago, Rwanda had no future, only a past.
Yet as Fidel told us just now, today we have a reason to celebrate the normal moments of life that are easy for others to take for granted.
If the Genocide reveals humanity’s shocking capacity for cruelty, Rwanda’s choices show its capacity for renewal.
Today, half of all Rwandans are under 20. Nearly three-quarters are under 30. They are the new Rwanda. Seeing these young people carry the Flame of Remembrance, to all corners of the country over the last three months, gives us enormous hope.
We are all here to remember what happened and to give each other strength.
As we do so, we must also remember the future to which we have committed ourselves.
I thank you.
April 7, 2014 No Comments