- We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families: Stories From Rwanda(Bestselling Backlist)
- Shake Hands with the Devil : The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda
- Escape from Rwanda: A True Story of Faith, Hope, and Survival
Two weeks ago, I got into a discussion with a Conscious brotha and brought up Rwanda. He didn’t have any idea what I was talking about. It amazed and stupefied me that someone who was well versed in the Metu Neter, the histories of the Kingdoms of Kush, Ghana, and Great Zimbabwe, and was something of a scholar had remained ignorant on the continent’s recent history and current state of affairs! I can only guess that there are a lot more people out there who haven’t gotten the full story about what happened there or in other African countries, so I am going to briefly drop some real spit on the subject here.
Prelude to Genocide
When Rwanda was still a Belgian colony (1914-1962), the Belgians decided to use the ancient distinction between Rwanda’s two ethnic majorities known as the Hutu and the Tutsi to their advantage by setting up a caste-like system where the Hutu are subject to the forced labor and wold be supervised by the favored Tutsi. Before the arrival of whites, the terms “Hutu” and “Tutsi” were NOT racial classifications, but signs of social distinction. A person could become a Tutsi or a Hutu based on their social and economic standing. Tutsis who lost their cattle sometimes would be considered Hutu, AND Hutu who came up on some cattle would come to be considered Tutsi. When whites rolled in, they decided to use old “divide-and-conquer” strategy, and changed the titles into races instead of social classes. The Belgians specifically used so-called scientific beliefs about racial superiority and started spreading the myth that the Tutsi-(usually stereotyped as lanky, light-skinned, and thin lipped) were genetically superior, and should rule over the “stockier, darker, thick-lipped” Hutus. The Belgians (and the Germans who had come through a few years earlier) helped the Tutsi overlords put down uprisings by the Hutu, forced many of them into labor camps, and set up a social system very similar to the Jim Crow policies that were instituted in America during the same time.
Starting in 1933, everyone in Rwanda is issued an identification card defining them as Hutu (85% of the population) or Tutsi (14% of the population). The remaining 1% of Rwandas population is the Twa, the remnants of the indigenous Pygmies.
In 1933-34 the Belgians conducted a “census” then issued “ethnic” identity cards. [These identity cards] allowed the Belgians to rule Rwanda indirectly through a system in which Ttsi chiefs controlled the Hutu majority, extracting their labor on behalf of the Europeans. The Belgians openly favored the “more intelligent, more active” and more “refined” Tutsis, giving them superior education and assigning them all the best administrative and political positions. The Hutu majority was reduced to a humiliated pool of forced labor required to toil en masse under their Tutsi taskmasters. Over the years, what French scholar Gerald Prunier has called “an aggressively resentful inferiority complex deepened and festered among the Hutus. By the time independence rolled around, the Tutsi were a starkly priviledged, “arrogant” economically dominant ethnic minority. And the Hutu political activists who were calling for “majority rule” and “democratic revolution” were seeking not equality-but revenge.
This is what set the stage for the soon-to-erupt lethal violence between the two groups. It should be mentioned that genocide and racial violence had never occurred between the two groups until they saw the way white people handled business (with bloodshed). For 30 years, hate and resentment festered in the hearts of the Hutu, while the white-favored Tutsi received concession and respect from their white masters.
Rwanda Gains its Independence
Rwanda gained its independence in 1962 and became a democratic nation. Western countries have always praised the virtues of democracy, and even now during the revolutions in the Middle East, the west is failing to see how dangerous this policy of democratization can be for their interests. In the case of Rwanda, since Hutus were the majority of the population, they naturally won control of the country. They (the Hutu) had already published a manifesto declaring their intentions to wage war against the Tutsi (nicknamed ‘cockroaches’). When the Hutu won control, the Tutsi knew they had to do something to preempt a massacre.
In November of 1959, they had tried to assassinate the Pan-Africanist Grégoire Kayibanda (author of the Hutu Manifesto) who had called for the emancipation of Rwanda from U.N./Belgian control. They had also assaulted Hutu politician Dominique Mbonyumutwa so severely that his death was rumored.
In December of 1963, Tutsi guerrillas entered Southern Rwanda and advanced within twelve miles of the capital, Kigali with the intent of forcibly taking back control of the country. The Hutu controlled Rwandan Army saw this as their chance to put their manifesto into action, declared a state of emergency, cut down the Tutsi guerrilla force, and vowed to ‘clear the bush’ of rebellious elements. Within days some 14,000 Tutsis were massacred in the southern province of Gikongoro, in a coordinated campaign described as ‘the most horrible and systematic massacre’ since the Holocaust. But this massacre would be nothing compared to what was about to go down.
The Failure of the United Nations
The United Nations intervened in the early 90s, and forced the two ethnic groups to share power and maintain peace. A fragile peace held for a very short time. In Jan 1994 the U.N. commander on the ground, Canadian General Romeo Dallaire, received information from a Hutu informant that the Rwandan government was preparing to launch a campaign to exterminate the Tutsis once and for all. The plan also included killing 10 Belgian U.N. soldiers to force the U.N. to evacuate the country.
General Dallaire relayed this information to Kofi Anan, then the UN Head of Peacekeeping Operations, but was told to do nothing. In fact, all forces on the ground were ordered to leave Hutu arms supplies alone and try to keep the peace. The UN was not in the mood to deal with another crisis the likes of which was seen in Somalia months earlier.
By April, shit had hit the fan again. The Hutu president was assassinated when his airplane was blown out of the sky by an RPG. Again, General Dallaire was told to not intervene or do anything that might spark violence. Gunfire rattattatted in the distance. With assassinations being prevalent, 25 U.N. Peacekeepers were sent to guard the Rwandan Prime Minister, Madame Uwilingiyimana, but were told not to use force even if they were attacked. A few hours later, Hutu militia men stormed the Prime Minister’s compound and hacked her to pieces with machetes. Eyewitnesses reported that the Belgian Peacekeepers were forced to surrender their weapons and were led away. Their bodies were later found in a morgue.
Meanwhile, the Clinton admin ordered the immediate evacuation of all Americans in the country. The United Nations also pulled out all aid workers and diplomats. White military units (300 US Marines, 300 French Legionaries, and 1000 Belgian paratroopers) moved into the country, evacuated white people and their families, and left the Rwandans to duke it out. All UN personnel were under orders not to evacuate Rwandans. Anybody with white skin got to get on the plane, anybody with Black skin had to stay and die. While Rwandans begged White soldiers to take them, white soldiers and members of the media looked on with dead expressions, turned their backs and left.
The Hutus once again put their manifesto into action with the targeted killings of Tutsi government officials, and then the indiscriminate killing of men, women, and children of Tutsi ethnicity. Local officials and government-sponsored radio incited ordinary citizens to kill their Tutsi neighbors, and those who refused to kill were often hacked to pieces with machetes on the spot. “Either you took part in the massacres or you were massacred yourself.”
One twelve year old girl tells the story of how she and her family fled with other Tutsis into a church, thinking no one would kill within its walls. Hutu rebels came in and started shooting until no one was left standing. She was spared only because of people falling dead on top of her. Hutu finished off those not dead using machetes. For 48 days, the girl stayed in the church amongst the dead for fear of leaving and being finished off. When she finally left, the doorway of the church was filled with the bodies of people who had tried to escape. Above that entrance was the statue of a white Christ, arms outstretched.
THE UNITED STATES HAS NO FRIENDS, THE UNITED STATES ONLY HAS INTERESTS. IF THEY HAVE NO INTEREST IN A COUNTRY,
THEY HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THAT COUNTRY.
The Rwandan Genocide was well underway. In the first two weeks of conflict, 100,000 Tutsis were killed. Still, no support from the United Nations. After 2 months – a half a million people lay rotting in the streets and the countryside. When asked about the situation in Rwanda, Bill Clinton’s position was to do nothing, to leave the fate of Rwanda to the Rwandans. He refused to intervene. The UN also left the commander in Rwanda on the ground without additional support. Negotiations and cease-fire talks on his behalf with Hutus went nowhere.
Years earlier, after the Jewish Holocaust, the United Nations drafted a resolution to intervene whenever the threat of genocide was apparent. The motto was “Never Again”. But Bill Clinton and Kofi Anan were afraid to label the atrocities as “genocide,” since that would compel the UN to undertake a military intervention. Government officials told the media “Rwanda isn’t genocide”.
(Observe the hypocrisy from the man that Blacks in America called “The first Black President”: this was around the same time period that Bill Clinton committed the U. S. military to a NATO peace-keeping ‘Implementation Force’ of 60,000 that was deployed into the European regions of Bosnia to stop the ethnic cleansing there.)
By the time the US and UN decided to finally send support to Rwanda (in May of 1994), there were few Tutsis left alive – most had fled to neighboring countries or had been killed. The Civil war there ended only when Tutsi rebels defeated the Hutu. Rwandan government officials estimated the number of victims of the genocide to be 1,174,000 in 100 days (10,000 murdered every day, 400 every hour, 7 every minute). Between 250,000 and 500,000 Rwandan women and girls had been raped.
That’s the entire Black population of Los Angeles and Atlanta.
In 1998, President Bill Clinton visited Rwanda, heard the stories of survivors, saw the mass graves, and left the country without apologizing for doing nothing to help the people there. Rwanda was just another example of the following fact: The United States has no friends, the United States only has interests. If they have no interest in a country, they have nothing to do with that country.
What This Means To Us
I talk about Darfur and Rwanda and Sierra Leone and Liberia to show you just how different and difficult Africa’s problems can be. Many Pan-Africanists and separatists think that we can just all pick up and leave America so we can return to Mother Africa. This will never work. Had we made our home in Rwanda, we most likely would have been executed. Liberia’s Civil War, The Congo Wars, the Wars in Darfur, and the Wars in Zaire, Zimbabwe, and the Apartheid revolutions in South Africa all would have saw us as sons and daughters of America, not fellow Africans, and we would have been killed for our western ties and upbringing.
We blacks in America have made our home in this country. We understand what is going on here. We can maneuver freely enough to establish our own nation here, and from this platform we can build systems that can ultimately help our motherland. When white governments refuse to intervene and save literally millions of lives, we can intervene. If the people of Rwanda had ever needed help, that was the time. White world leaders knew genocide was about to ensue, and rather than moving in to prevent the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Africans, they instead decided on a full and complete withdrawal from the country.
United Black America believes that “an attack on Black men and women anywhere is an attack on Black men and women everywhere” – and by standing by and letting Black men and women die, they are as murderous as the machete-wielders. But we cannot help the people in Africa unless we can help our own people right here in the hells of North America. We must build, develop our resources, and cultivate the political will to defend ourselves and advance our interests at home and abroad as a United Black America.