A French judge’s decision to seek the arrest of the Rwandan President Paul Kagame has strained relations between Paris and Kigali. French authorities want him tried over the downing of a plane which killed his predecessor and sparked genocide in the country. The Rwandan government has accused France of being partly to blame for the bloodletting. He spoke to EuroNews in Brussels last Friday.
“Rwanda was dismemberd like many other countries in our continent, and divided. As they (the colonialists) divided geographical spaces, they also divided peope who otherwise had a lot in common. And this was later to have serious consequences. And certainly if you look at the Rwandan case again, ethnicaly divided as they so call it, but Rwanda is known as one people, Rwandanese, who have one culture, who speak one language. But some minor, what I would say, diversities that existed were radicalised, and people divided, and were made to hate each other, more so as in the time of colonialism, and this had a result in such a tragedy as the genocide of 1994.”
“What really happend in 1994?”
“Rwanda got independance in 1962, but what kind of independence? Because this was independence that was decided in terms of the form and when and how it should be given by the colonial masters. And later on the people who took over, Rwandese themselves, were simply made to see things the way the colonialists wanted them to see them. If they decided to say ‘you are a Hutu so you should hit the Tutsi’, or the other way around.
This was an issue that was manipulated by the colonialists, even through the educational system.”
“Don’t you think that it was also the effect, the outcome, of a sort of competition between France and the USA in that part of Africa?”
“In Rwanda, I don’t know and I don’t think so, though all these countries had some kind responsibility or another, but each country had a different responsiblity and reasons for having that responsibility. For example if you have one country that maybe didn’t care about what happened in Rwanda, and maybe could have helped or didn’t help enough. This is one to prevent what happended from happening or to stop it or to even be helpful afterwards. This is one thing, and it is different from another country that simply actively participated for exemple in preparing the minds of people: put programmes in place for people to hate one another, and later on participated directly in arming, in strengthening, in supporting one section of the population against another. All of these are responsibilities, but they are different responsibilities, and they have different implications and they have a different magnitude.”