For all the façade on stability in Rwanda, there is more than enough proof that the situation might be worsening. Indeed, we should be afraid if not concerned about this tiny central African state with a penchant for ethnic violence.
Someone is beating the drums of war and like a teenager hungry for attention; he wants us to take him seriously. The signs are more ominous than ever. We ignore them at our own peril.
Rwanda has gone through many phases for the last seventeen years since the 1994 genocide. Throughout, violence has been an important and undisputed part of the package. However, the latest signs of violence are in a category of their own.
In the past, violence has for the most part pitted two groups, Hutu and Tutsi against each other. More than ever before, as Kagame’s autocracy worsens, the prospects of a united and multi-ethnic force rising against him are becoming more pronounced. Although the likely protagonists keep denying this, the breeze of violent resistance is very much palpable.
Frantz Fanon in his book The Wretched of the Earth talks about the concept of liberating violence. If violence spreads out the oppressed (Fanon’s primary concern is the colonized), having nothing of value to lose, and are the first to embrace violence. In Rwanda the oppressed are a handful many.
The hope for Fanon is that violence would become the greatest equalizer as the “last become the first”. Many might rightfully say that Rwandans have had enough of this. I am personally skeptical of the likelihood of violence to liberate. However, what is left for Rwandans to try? Is it acceptable that Rwandans hide in exile because they cannot express their views back home? When and where does the cycle of violence stop?
Somehow, as a people, we seem incapable of conceptualizing a life that guarantees equal freedom for all. Paul Kagame is going down in history as just another despot, having failed to reconcile Rwanda and heal the ethnic divide. Even worse, Kagame’s recklessness seems to have divided the Rwandan Patriotic Front, the ruling party. As a testament, his former allies are now his most vicious opponents. They are barking so loud and are eagerly waiting for the chance to bite him hard. If war breaks out, it will most likely be the RPF against the rpf.
Kagame’s former allies and top ranking members of the RPF now describe him as a bloody thirsty dictator with no respect for human life. Theogene Rudasingwa former RPF secretary general and director of Kagame’s cabinet, a Tutsi himself has this to say, “….” Knowing very well that these men fought alongside Kagame during the 1994 liberation war, we do well to give them an ear.
Even harder to ignore at home are assassinations and nihilistic violence. Just before the last presidential elections, Kigali was gaining the notoriety as the city of grenade explosions. Whether this was an inside job as some have speculated or not, it is a highly disturbing precursor. Moreover, several members of the former CNDP, a proxy militia of the Rwandan government based in Eastern DRC, have been executed. High ranking military personnel (most of them Tutsi) are languishing in Rwandan jails accused of treason.
The fallout between Kagame and Kayumba an equally highly respected Tutsi leader might well be the ultimate sign of this instability. The subsequent attempt to assassinate Kayumba brings to light the dangerous and highly alarming inner struggles of power in Rwanda politics. You kill me or I kill you!
Given the inter-ethnic alliances that are blooming, it is likely that the second wave of violence might not be as bloody as the first. That for now is our source of hope. Our politicians do not want to talk, making violence seem rather inescapable.