Chido Nwangwu writes that Nigerian government and people need to learn from the lesson of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and ensure that the polity is not unnecessarily heated up by utterances of politicians aides who participated in the recently concluded 2023 general elections in the country.
We have all noticed the hateful inclination and deadly disposition of some desperate political charlatans who claim and parade as leaders across our communities, countries and International environments.
For many of them, they revel in the fact that one of the easiest ways to get to power or keep power is to demonize, attack and minimize other groups, especially racial demographics, ethnic groups and relatively small nationalities as less than worthy to lead. Or they will say that they are too dangerous to share or provide leadership for the governance of the country.
It has been witnessed in many parts of the African continent, including Rwanda, Sudan, South Africa, the Congo, Nigeria, the United States, across the Asian continent and parts of Europe.
The most recent brutal show of this level of depravity and hate was during the April, 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, and led primarily by the Hutu paramilitary group known as the Interahamwe. More than one million Rwandans were hacked to death or killed by any means! Sadly, it was a genocidal slaughter the last day that lasted for 100 days. It was bloody and hellish on the soil and air of Rwanda!
I must note that, significantly, Rwandan President Paul Kagame warned, again, on Friday, April 7, 2023, at the Gisozi Genocide Memorial center for more 250,000 genocide victims:
“We cannot ignore things like violence and hate speech that persist not so far from here…. You can also see the same indifference today as we saw in 1994.”
On Wednesday, April 7, 2004, Rwandan President Paul Kagame specifically named Belgium, Britain and the United States for withdrawing their forces when Rwandans needed them, asserting that: “Injustice of powerful nations should be stopped. Rwanda should be a good example to learn a lesson.”
The first, key lesson of the Rwanda genocide is that moral and courageous leadership serve our collective and singular moral interests.
Kagame’s view dovetails with the words of the civil rights icon, Martin Luther King Jr. in his ‘Letter from Birmingham Jail (April 16, 1963) arguing that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Also, later the holocaust survivor, Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel, in his book ‘Un die welt hot geshvign (And the World Kept Silent)’ later updated as ‘Night’, wrote: “Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Whenever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must- at that moment- become the center of the universe.”
Biafra. Rwanda. Darfur, and other geopolitical zones of killings and human tragedy are reminders of past and continuing centers of the universe.
Reflecting on the crises of 1994, Gen. Romeo Dallaire, the UN commander whose call for reinforcements was ignored said recently: “The international community didn’t give one damn for Rwandans because Rwanda was a country of no strategic importance.” Bill Clinton was the president of the United States at the time.
On April 7, 2023, in a difficult but frank reflection, Rwanda’s Minister of National Unity and Civic Engagement, Jean Damascene Bizimana, noted that “April 21st was a dark time for Rwanda. We lost almost 250,000 people in various places as the killers moved into the areas where they hid and hacked many…. Forgiving the perpetrators of the 1994 genocide is proof of our unity and resilience. Today, we remember with happiness and appreciation what Rwanda has achieved. Those who still have the genocide ideology, we ask them to stop, learn from us and respect life.”
Truth must be told that there are especially the hired hands and “spokespersons” for many politicial leaders in Nigeria who are spinning mills for hate speech and potentially genocidal incitements. They talk, yell and fulminate without public or personal decorum, without any sense of responsibility and consequence since the elections in Nigeria in February and March, 2023.
They should learn from Rwanda and other places where words became tools for the decimation of ethnic groups, religious identies and nationalities.
One of the biggest lessons of the Rwanda Hutu-imposed genocide is that we have all seen the face of evil; sometimes, they reside among us. The Rwanda genocide is still fresh as the zone where next door neighbors and teenagers used knives and machettes and dane guns and assault rifles to kill those they played soccer with and fetched water from the same stream only a few hours earlier. Hutus set Tutsi houses on fire to destroy the lives of those who sang and played at the churches and village squares.
The slaughter of women and children and all moving objects with any and all available weapons marked a new low in the depravity of malice and prejudice.
The world is watching, as Nigeria’s government does nothing to restrain the people who bring the sword of incitement and violent bigotry!
-Dr Nwangwu, is Founder of the first African-owned, U.S-based newspaper on the internet, USAfricaonline.com, and established USAfrica in 1992 in Houston.