What swallowed tongues would say by Elisabeth Potter

    Rwanda's defying policy of equal rights and opportunities -- my testimony



    For the next one hundred days of Kwibuka, Rwandans and friends around the world will remember and honour those we lost, and comfort those who survived the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.We also pay tribute to Rwandans and our leadership for their courage, sacrifices and resilience that brought Rwanda back to life [... more]




    Un “Counseling Center”, mais aussi une école de la vie.

    "Rwanda: The Untold Story": questions for the BBC


    Andrew Wallis 6 October 2014

    A deeply flawed BBC documentary on Rwanda’s genocide raises serious questions over the corporation’s ethics and standards.
    "There is no reasonable basis for anyone to dispute that, during 1994, there was a campaign of mass killing intended to destroy, in whole or at least in very large part, Rwanda’s Tutsi population… That campaign was, to a terrible degree, successful; although exact numbers may never be known, the great majority of Tutsis were murdered, and many others were raped or otherwise harmed." [International Criminal Court for Rwanda, 16 June 2006]

    It is not often a documentary comes along that totally reattributes the historical reality of a genocide in a mere one hour. Indeed the BBC programme Rwanda: the Untold Story, broadcast at prime-time on 1 October 2014, managed this in a record ten-minute section of its airtime. Twenty years of scholarly research by academics such as Gérard Prunier,Linda MelvernMahmood MamdaniHoward Adelman, Jean-François Dupaquier, Jean-Pierre Chrétien and Allan Thompson (to name just a few) was pushed aside.

    Thousands of witness interviews for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), archived documents and judgements were made equally redundant. So were many official reports by the United Nations Security Council in 1994 and 1999; the African Union; and human-rights groups - especially the landmark work by Alison des Forges at Human Rights Watch and Rakiya Omar at African Rights.

    Instead, the BBC entrusted the exposure of the "true" story of the genocide to two American academics, Allan Stam and Christian Davenport, who had travelled to Rwanda in 1998 and found everyone they spoke to telling the same story about the genocide. This, they decided, was not because people were recounting what had actually happened but because they had been brainwashed or frightened into a massive cover-up.

    Standing in front of a scientific-looking multi-coloured "results" map of Rwanda, they flashed up impressively scientific-looking statistics of troop movements across Rwanda in 1994 to prove their point. In essence, they alleged that instead of 800,000 Tutsi deaths there were only around 200,000. Even more incredibly, they proposed at least 800,000 Hutus had been killed at the hands of the Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF), as they pushed the genocidal Rwandan army and Hutu militias from the country. The accepted death-toll figures by researchers such as Gérard Prunier, Alison des Forges and Marijke Verpooten’s forensic examination in 2005 are simply dismissed. As indeed are all legal judgments from the ICTR where hundreds of investigators, scholars and acute legal minds have worked for two decades.

    Edward Herman and David Peterson were to use the "results" in their book The Politics of Genocide, published in 2010. It was swiftly discredited by scholars who ridiculed both the methodology of the research and its suspected underlying motivation. For example, Gerry Caplan, author of the African Union report Rwanda: the preventable genocide, criticised Herman and Peterson as being part of an ideologically driven core of genocide-deniers, genocide-revisers and opponents of the current Rwandan government. The main aim of this small group, Caplan argued, was to shift the blame for the tragedy to their bête noir Paul Kagame, the current Rwandan leader, who has become for them (and some western media) a figure of intense, almost pathological, dislike. The BBC film certainly reflects this view.

    The constant thread throughout the hour-long film was the desire to denigrate Kagame, through a cast-list of eight long-time enemies of the Rwandan leader. There was no balancing view, no attempt to analyse in depth or understand the history that brought Rwanda to the events of 1994. Instead viewers were treated to crushing tabloid accusations, pithy soundbites from the selected group of carefully chosen interviewees, sly insinuations and slo-mo shots of the Rwandan leader looking suitably diabolical. There was no new "untold" evidence to back up claims. Here was a chance for the highly complex, emotionally-charged Rwandan story to be considered on prime-time television. Instead it was reduced to a good vs evil parody that left anyone with knowledge of the country and its history, who surely included many genocide survivors in Europe, with a feeling of frank disbelief and anger.

    What’s untold

    The event many see as the trigger for the genocide is the shooting down of the plane of President Juvenal Habyarimana on 6 April 1994. The film’s cursory "explanation" for what happened was based on the claim by a single RPF defector, now in France, that he heard Kagame order the destruction of the plane. The programme also cited the report by French judge Jean-Louis Bruguière, published in 2006. This report has long since been derided for relying on half a dozen Rwandan defectors, many of whom swiftly went public to say that their statements had been corrupted to meet Bruguière’s requirements, and that they had been promised French visas should they comply with his wishes. Wikileaks subsequently showed Bruguière’s none-too-subtle political agenda. The judge is currently under investigation for perjury, withholding evidence and obstruction of justice in other cases he handled.
    Unsurprisingly, there is no mention of the more recent independent and meticulous report in 2012 by the investigating judge Marc Trévidic that showed clearly the missiles were fired from an area controlled by extremist Hutu units of the presidential guard; nor of research in 2008 by the UK’s Cranfield University that came to the same conclusion. Instead another academic is extensively cited: the Belgian professor and vociferous opponent of Kagame, Filip Reyntjens. Again, no mention of the fact that he was a long-term advisor to Habyarimana and has not been in Rwanda for twenty years. All this is a mockery of supposed investigative journalism.

    The two main beneficiaries of the film are high-profile RPF defectors: Theogene Rudasingwa and General Kayumba Nyamwasa. Their views are unchallenged and taken, in effect, as gospel. No attempt is made to explore their own backgrounds and current political ambitions. Nyamwasa was head of Rwanda’s army after the genocide, and was accused both of trying to build a separate power-base within the military and of involvement in a series of corruption scams and illegal land-grabs while in office. Rudasingwa was said to be implicated in a lucrative financial scam while employed in the office of the president. Rwanda’s zero tolerance of corruption, as witnessed by Transparency International, makes it unsurprising that both fled the country rather than face the charges against them. The two men, along with two other defectors (Patrick Karegeya and Gerald Gahima), founded an opposition party in exile, the Rwanda National Congress [RNC], in 2010 aimed at unseating Kagame.

    Nyamwasa’s RNC is alleged to be allied to the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda [FDLR] in the borderlands of eastern DRC and Rwanda. The FDLR is made up of many genocidaire who fled to the region after the RPF pushed them from Rwanda, and has become synonymous with terrorising the local population over the past fifteen years, including the mass rape and murder of tens of thousands of innocent civilians. Its leader Sylvestre Mudacumura is wanted at the ICC for gross human-rights violations. FDLR atrocities inside Rwanda in recent years have left scores dead and injured from grenade attacks, with the RNC implicated in assisting funding and supply of arms to the group. Both Nyamwasa and Rudasingwa were sentenced in their absence by Rwandan courts - in Nyamwasa’s case not to life imprisonment (as the film affirms) but to twenty-four years for corruption, misuse of office, and threatening state security. Rudasingwa was given the same sentence in absentia.

    The film features numerous such factual inaccuracies, misleading generalisations and omissions. There is no mention of the genocidal pogroms that caused hundred of thousands of Tutsis to flee between 1959 and 1972-73; nor of the fact that the RPF chose a military path back into Rwanda in 1990 precisely because Habyarimana had consistently blocked the peaceful return of the refugees to their homeland; nor of the genocidal massacres of thousands of Tutsis in 1990-93 by Habyarimana’s army and militia. The two terrible Congolese wars (1996-97, 1998-2003) are explained in a few short sentences though the motivation of the belligerents involved the highly complex interplay of six countries and dozens of militias, and originated in the border camps that were filled with genocidaire as well as innocent Hutu refugees. Both United Nations and Amnesty International reports have testified that these camps had become a launchpad for a planned re-invasion by the genocidal interim government and its forces.

    What next?

    The ethics of the BBC programme makers are extremely questionable. There was no evident attempt to talk to Tutsi survivors or survivor groups. The Rwandan organiser who assisted the film crew in practical arrangements was told it was purely a film about the twentieth commemoration; months afterwards he was called suddenly by the BBC producer, told the film was highly controversial, his life could be in danger, and that he should flee. The very serious implication is that the documentary makers were prepared to put his life, and that of his wife and children, in danger, without ever mentioning this to him until too late.

    The site director of the genocide memorial at Murambi, Gaspard Mukwiye - who tends the place and the memories of its 50,000 Tutsi victims, and is himself a Tutsi survivor - was also persuaded into taking part in a film that effectively denied his acute suffering and personal loss, still vividly etched on his face. It should be noted the "repressive" regime the film portrayed gave the BBC complete open access to its media archives and to film wherever and whatever it wanted.

    The BBC has since 2006 many times reaffirmed its editorial guidelines, including that "we should do all we can to ensure that controversial subjects are treated with due accuracy and impartiality in all relevant output." Viewers can make up their own minds how accurate and impartial this programme is and wonder if other genocides are next on the BBC revisionist menu, subsumed under its current obsession to "break news" and controversies. That is the best-case interpretation. It can only be hoped the corporation is not home to senior executives who actively hold malevolent views of genocide denial which they are misusing public money and privilege to promote.

    Beyond The Classroom

    Lauren Ziegenbein Working Paper
    2014 Summer Study Abroad
    CNLG, Kigali Rwanda

    Beyond The Classroom

    The summer classes and trip to Rwanda are titled Rwanda: Genocide and Beyond. Throughout last semester and the visit, we learned an enormous amount about the genocide. This essay will not be about the genocide directly, but rather it is going to focus on the Beyond side of the class, the side that cannot be taught in a classroom. There are so many stereotypes formed over the years that have created a completely false image of Rwanda and Africa as a whole. And yes, horrible things have happened there, but horrible things happen everywhere. In this paper, I will mention some of the stereotypes I had, as well as some stereotypes I have heard from others as I told them I was going to Africa this summer. I will then challenge those stereotypes and explain why they are incomplete or incorrect. Stereotypes are dangerous so if they are not challenged then as Chimamanda Adichie says, they will cause consequences: “The problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story. The consequence of the single story is this: it robs people of dignity. It makes our recognition of our equal humanity difficult. It emphasizes how we are different rather than how we are similar” (Ngozi Chimamanda). And when we focus on how we are different from one another, it leads to events such as the Genocide against the Tutsi in 1994. 
    In 1994, a tragic event took place known as the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda between April 6th and July 17th. In only 100 days, over 1 million people had been murdered. One group of people, the Tutsi, was targeted for their perceived ethnicity by another group, the Hutu, who were another perceived ethnicity. The once fluid social categories became rigid due to a succession of events. First, the missionaries and colonialists created tension between the two groups by favoring the Tutsi because they were considered more white-like due to the perceived truth of the Hamitic myth at the time in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Once the Tutsis wanted to become independent, the foreigners switched allegiance from the Tutsis to the Hutus. Because of this original favoritism for the Tutsi, during their rule, the Hutus became angry due to the fact that the colonialists treated them disrespectfully. So when the Hutus came to power in 1957, many Tutsis were exiled and Hutu political parties were formed. From 1959-1962, a period of ethnic violence took place. Many who were exiled during this time, later formed the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). In 1962, Grégoire Kayibanda became president. During his presidency, the pogroms against the Tutsi began. In 1973 Juvenal Habyarimana, his major general at the time overthrew him in a coup d’état. Habyarimana ratified a new constitution forcing everyone to follow the National Revolutionary Movement for Development (MRND) political party. In the 1930s, identification cards were issued, which played a major part later in the genocide of determining what ethnicity an individual was. In 1990, the RPF invaded Rwanda but were defeated. In 1993, Habyarimana signed the Arusha Accords but did not follow through with the peace agreement. On April 6th, 1994 Habyarimana’s plane was shot down, which sparked the beginning of the genocide. On July 4th, 1994, the RPF finally took control of Kigali, the capital city ending the genocide. It officially ended on the 17th of July when the last Hutu militia was forced out of Gisenyi, a town to the northwest. Since then, Rwanda has been rebuilding itself from the ground up. It has had many challenges just like any country but it is doing its best to overcome them. The resiliency of these people and ability to forgive but never forget has benefited them exponentially. This incredible country should be viewed correctly and all its stories should be told. Stereotypes should not be created about this or any country because they are incomplete. Unfortunately, they exist but I will do my best to explain why they are wrong. 
    The first and most common question I have been asked, when I tell people I traveled to Rwanda this summer, concerned safety and security. For example people, and when I say people I mean anyone from my parents to my friends to even my aunt’s boyfriend, asked me “Isn’t it dangerous over there?” making it sound as if “over there” was some far off planet, not just across the Atlantic. I also got, “Did you ever feel unsafe walking around? Isn’t that where Kony is? Is that where the girls were kidnapped?”, and “Is that where the war is going on?” along with others. 
    My response to these questions at first, after being in Rwanda I now think everyone knows as much as I do about Rwanda because I have been talking about it for so long, was are you serious?! I initially became angry because these poor people probably only listened to one news report on the entire continent of Africa in the past year and I expected them to know as much as I did about a single, tiny country in the center of Africa. But after I took a step back and realized they did not sit in the back of my semester-long class or tag along on my trip to Rwanda, I realized that this was a perfect moment to be an ambassador for Rwanda and to teach these unknowing people about the safest, most peaceful country in Africa. I wanted them to feel the same love and affection for this tiny, amazing country as I do. 
    Now, the actual, scholarly answers to these questions are as follows. To the first and second questions regarding safety and security I reply, according to the Overseas Security Advisory Council, a United States Department of State Bureau of Diplomatic Security, in 2013, Rwanda’s rate of crime was low-to-moderate and was generally non-violent which are crimes such as pick-pocketing. Rarely, violent crimes occurred such as robbery and assault just as they do anywhere. There have been hardly any grenade attacks since 2012 during which there were only three. Grenade attacks are believed to be from the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) according to the BBC News Africa (Rwanda grenade attack in Kigali kill two). The FDLR are Hutu extremists who still believe in the same ideology that existed during the gencocide, that all Tutsis must be exterminated. In addition, some tension exists at the Rwandan Congolese border between two armed forces (FARDC and M23) who were having conflicts that sent many Congolese people to Rwanda for refuge in 2013 only one Rwandan was killed. Additionally, protests are “rare, generally peaceful, and require a permit.” Drug abuse, kidnappings, religious and ethnic conflicts are not a significant issue. Other than that, there is an active volcano near the Rwandan border located in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and a possibility of minor earthquakes (Overseas Security Advisory). Not only statistically are the people safe in Rwanda but the people also feel safe. 
    Another study, released in 2012, by Gallup shows that Rwanda is the number one country in Africa where citizens are most likely to feel safe, at 92%. Niger is second at 84%. This study inquires the citizens regarding their own confidence in the law enforcement authorities and the citizens’ experience dealing with crime, the ability to meet basic needs, the wellbeing of the citizens such as happiness and personal economics, and lastly the citizens are questioned about the likelihood of people moving due to a scarcity of local opportunities. The public positively reacts upon seeing the report. The CEO of the Rwanda Governance Board (RGB) speaks highly of the Rwanda Defense Forces (RDF), who line the streets and are also in many countries fighting for peace. Similarly, a student at the Mount Kenya University (MKU) in Rwanda, Moses Kirui who is Kenyan, states that it is a peaceful country compared to Nairobi, Kenya. Lastly, a Kimironko resident (Kimironko is the cell, or area, we stayed in for the duration of our time), Angela Ingabire commends, “This is the country where you are never scared of being killed, or robbed, on the streets at whatever time of the day or night. In fact this is the only place where you can misplace your valuables in a bar, a taxi, or anywhere else, and later retrieve them, still intact” (Karuhanga). These statements and this survey prove that Rwanda is in fact a very safe country from CEO to ordinary citizen. Safety is important to the people but it is not the same as corruption. 
    Many countries in Africa are considered corrupt. According to worldbank.org, corruption means “the abuse of public office for private gain” (The World Bank 8). According to the Corruption Perceptions Index, in 2013, Rwanda ranked 4th out of 176 countries surveyed in Africa to be least corrupt. 100 is considered highly clean and 0 is considered highly corrupt. Rwanda scored a 53 according to the survey and only 7 African countries scored above 50. (Transparency International 5). This is great for the country. In comparison, the US ranks 19th with a score of 73. 
    As shown in all of the articles, Rwanda is a very safe and anti-corrupt country and people deserve to know. People should not group all of Africa together like it’s one country but instead observe that each country is independent. Grouping Africa together and calling people African is like me calling myself a North American because I am from North America, but we do not say that, instead I say I am from the United States just as someone might say they are from Chile or from Uganda. 
    You know who else is from Uganda? Joseph Kony. Kony was a leader for the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), which is a group that was originally created to fight government oppression until it turned against its supporters in order to purify the nation. He is most widely known as a child abductor who brain washes children into child soldiers and sex slaves. Kony has been “indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court in the Hague, Netherlands in 2005” (Joseph Kony). He has not been charged because he has not been found. He fled from Uganda to somewhere else in Africa. In 2012, an American, Jason Russell created the film KONY 2012, which received a lot of attention from the public but did not increase the US’s involvement like Russell was aiming for. Nonetheless, Joseph Kony is a horrible man but he has absolutely nothing to do with Rwanda. And neither do the schoolgirls who were kidnapped; they were kidnapped in Nigeria. The story according to nbcnews.com states that Islamic extremists Boko Haram, which roughly translates to western education is a sin, kidnapped almost 300 girls in April 2014 (Smith). This is also a tragic situation that needs to be addressed and they need to be rescued but it does not concern Rwanda. 
    To answer the final question asked recently by my cousin if Rwanda is where the war with machetes is happening, I respond there is unquestionably no war going on now. However shocked I was by this question I was, on some level, glad she knew that there was some sort of something that had gone on with machetes somewhere over in Africa. I was glad I could inform her that it ended 20 years ago officially today, July 17, 1994 and that I could spread the happiness that is Rwanda to another person. After what happened in 1994, one would not expect in a short 20 years that this country would be considered the number one safest country in Africa, but fortunately, it is in terms of not only weapons and crime but also disease.
    The second stereotype I noticed regarded civilization and diseases. Once people decided that since I’d made it back alive, they could ask about diseases such as HIV/AIDS. They asked me, well intentioned I am sure, how many shots I had to get to venture into an “uncivilized” and “corrupt” place. My personal favorites were the questions that did not concern diseases as much as uncivilization like “Did I eat any bugs?” and “Did I eat out of a banana leaf instead of a plate?” 
    Rwanda is not uncivilized by any means. Rwanda is ahead of many countries in terms of gender and sexuality equality and other aspects. No lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered (lgbt) person can be criminalized by the law, which is incredible for being a neighbor to Uganda where being lgbt is a crime punishable by death. According to theguardian.com, Minister of Foreign Affairs Louise Mushikiwabo said that “the Rwandan justice minister went on record on 19 December, saying in print, in the strongest possible terms, that sexual orientation was a private, not a state issue and that Rwanda had no intention of legislating on homosexuality” (Mushikiwabo). Even within the government, Rwanda makes gender equality a priority. There is a quota that women have to fill of 30% of the seats in the Parliament, which they did but now they exceed that number. Women fill 63.8% of the seats today (Inter-Parliamentary Union). This is the highest percent of women in Parliament in the world. Along with pioneering a woman majority in the Parliament, they are doing another “civilized” thing by becoming the first country in Africa to be nearly free of HIV/AIDS in the most recent generation. 
    In 1994, hundreds of thousands were infected with HIV because of the massive amount of raping and children born from rape. 20 years post-genocide there are more than 200,000 infected, 27,000 of which are children (Gupta). According to theatlantic.com, an article by Neil Gupta, a deputy clinical director for Partners in Health in Rwanda states, “in a country where the average income is less than $2 a day, more than 120,000 patients are now being treated for HIV, a tenfold increase since 2004.” This is an amazing accomplishment considering here in the United States, many people cannot afford antiretroviral medication. But because the basic health care in Rwanda is about 3,000 Rwandan francs (Rwf), it is very affordable for most everyone. To put that number in perspective, for someone to make 3,000Rwf all it would take is a sale of a bunch of bananas. It is equal to $4.35USD. The medication for HIV/AIDS is free for the population, which increases the likelihood that citizens will get the treatment. Also, like I said, Rwanda is ahead of the game with HIV/AIDS treatment; the article states that in comparison with the rest of the world at 54%, Rwanda provides 91% of patients requiring treatment with the life-saving antiretroviral medication. This is good news especially for the women in Kigali where “one in 12 women between the ages of 15 and 49 are infected with the virus.” One aspect of healthcare that has really increased these numbers is the fact that “98% of women receive HIV testing during their prenatal visits.” As compared with the US, the article mentions that “83 percent of Rwandans living with HIV are successful in suppressing the virus”, which is “more than double the success rate that has been reported for patients in the U.S.” Finally, incredibly, the article praises the country because “Rwanda is one of the first sub-Saharan countries to virtually eliminate the transmission of HIV from mothers to newborn babies. As a result, the number of new HIV cases has been cut by half in the last decade, and Rwanda has made a big step toward fulfilling the dream of “an AIDS-free generation” (Gupta).
    Aside from the HIV/AIDS disease that is present in Rwanda, there are others that foreigners are susceptible to because they are not used to the resources such as the bacteria in the water so many end up with diarrhea. Upon going, it is mandatory that the traveler receives the Yellow Fever shot and recommended that the traveler takes malaria medicine, Hepiticis A and B shots, and Ciproflaxin for Traveler’s Diarrhea. Malaria is a very common and very preventable disease that individuals get from female mosquito bites. During the trip, no one—out of 13—got sick besides a few minor cases of diarrhea. So yes, shots and medicine are an intelligent decision but Africa is not the only place shots are needed to travel to. And just because one needs medicine to visit a country, does not make the country uncivilized. 
    To me, civilization is in the eye of the beholder, if you will. Is there a real definition for this word? Can there be? Everyone is “civilized” in his or her own way. I think the ability to be civilized is arbitrary and that one should not be judged on the basis of civilization nor should one try to civilize another. Even if we ate bugs off of leaves that would not make us uncivilized, but rather it would make us civilized in a different way. So you know, we did not eat bugs off of leaves. Instead, we ate at many buffets generally consisting of rice, beans, meat, cassava leaves, cooked bananas, fruit such as mango, banana, avocado, and pineapple, and usually vegetables like cucumber, onion, and carrot. It was delicious too. I cannot forget the fries either.
    As one can see, Rwanda is not at all uncivilized, if there is such a thing. In fact, it is the exact opposite, if there is such a thing. It has rates of success in the HIV/AIDS crisis better than the US. The government really cares about its citizens and that is reflected through the healthcare system and the extreme emphasis placed on gender equality, and much more. 
    The last common stereotype I ran into dealt with poverty, malnutrition, and the state of intelligence or development. Now I wasn’t directly asked about these, probably because people were sick of listening to me rave about Rwanda, even still, I noticed these topics on the TV, heard them in class, and observed them circulating in my own mind. I have to admit that I suffered from these stereotypes as well. Originally upon arriving in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, I was extremely surprised to see high rises and nicely paved streets. I was expecting underdeveloped shacks stacked on top of shacks, like I’d seen in movies such as Soul Boy. I was not expecting asphalt streets lined with palm trees and many large buildings. Many expect to see starving children like those shown in commercials, or expect these people to be dumb but this is not the case.
    Rwandans are not dumb, generally healthy, and have a decent income. Since 1994, Rwandans have done astonishing things for their country in terms of development. In the education system according to the Ministry of Education in Rwanda there are three levels of school: pre-primary, primary, and secondary. Students can choose to continue on to technical and vocational education and training, tertiary education, and there is also an adult literacy school. There are a total of 1,870 pre-primary schools, 2,594 primary schools, and 1,466 secondary schools. Children are even required to attend school from age 7 until 15 for free. During the genocide, all infrastructures were completely devastated so to see so many schools be provided, is only one thing the country has developed (Republic of Rwanda Ministry of Education).
    Another development concerns the health care system. In the entire country there are “18 dispensaries (primary health care, outpatient, referral), 16 prison dispensaries, 34 health posts (outreach activities – immunizations, antenatal care, family planning), 430+ health centers (prevention, primary health care, inpatient, maternity), 39 district hospitals (inpatient and outpatient) and 4 national referral hospitals (specialized inpatient and outpatient). The 4 referral hospitals are: Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Kigali (CHUK), Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Butare (CHUB), King Faisal Hospital (KFH) and the Kanombe Military Hospital” according to the Ministry of Health in Rwanda (Government of the Republic of Rwanda ). Now I only point both the health and educational systems out to prove that Rwanda is not as underdeveloped as most people might imagine because they use their resources wisely. Rwandans are really good about doing the best they can with what they have.
    Speaking of doing what they can with what they have, I will now address the stereotype of poverty. Compared to the US, in general, Rwandans are relatively poor considering they live on less than $2 a day. Everything there is more inexpensive than here so $2 a day goes a decent ways. It is still a minimal amount but that is only one story. Another story is compiled of middle class families who make a decent living and then there is the story of those who live in giant houses on the sides of hills that contain 16 bedrooms. Many people farm as well as have at least one cow so many people are self-sustaining. A lot of individuals sell their produce or their services like sewing. Nowadays, more people, including women, are finding it easy to start businesses because Rwanda is considered one of the best countries to do business in, in Africa. The process for starting a business can be completed in 24 hours so it is fast. Many acts have been put in place to make creating a business easier. For example, a new Companies Act, The Business Registration Act, The new Cooperative Act and the Cooperative Agency Act in combination with the Rwanda Commercial Registration Services Agency are all working together to totally reform the system and it’s requirements so that more people can become business owners and work themselves out of poverty. (Cutura 13-15) According to an article called How to win business in Africa? states, “Rwanda recently became the World Bank’s biggest business reformer on its Ease of Doing Business Index, leading 10 countries in regulatory reform – the first time a country from sub-Saharan Africa has done so” (Tostevin). What an exciting accomplishment for Rwanda. It just goes to show that these people are resilient and will stop at nothing to accomplish their goals. 
    Aside from the intelligence it takes to start a business, the education system is increasing in quality as well. They are also working on expanding their online class selection and availability 
    Recently the government switched the main language of teaching to English so that they better increase their access to the global economy. “English is now a world language, especially in trade and commerce. Rwanda is trying to attract foreign investors — most of these people are speaking English” states Chris McGreal, a journalist from theguardian.com (McGreal). Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and Open Educational Resources (OER) are being introduced and perfected so that there is a greater participation in higher education in Rwanda (NKUYUBWATSI). This is important because online classes can reach more people, there are not resource issues within the class like paper and books, and the students can probably hear the professors better or read what they need to because they will not be surrounded by 200 other students. “The approval from the Ministry of Education and Higher Education Council is also a good indicator of Rwandan higher education decision makers’ commitment to improve access to and quality of higher education” (NKUYUBWATSI). Here is another example of the government’s passion to improve the average Rwandan’s life and to give every citizen an opportunity to follow his or her dreams. 

    Rwanda is not a single story, but rather many stories weaved into one admirable country recovering from a horrendous atrocity. They are intelligent, hard-working, inspiring people that should never have had to go through what they did in 1994 but because of their passion for life, they have surpassed any and all expectations for where they would be only 20 years post-genocide. Rwanda will forever hold a piece of my heart and I am so grateful that I was afforded this opportunity to go. If you ever have the chance, I encourage it 110% because it will shatter all of your expectations and stereotypes.
    Stereotypes are dangerous no matter the noun, whether it is a person, place, or thing. We have seen the consequences of what can happen when people act based on their stereotypes. Stereotypes are usually formed because people hear a single story over and over again. When this happens, whatever or whomever is stereotyped, becomes only that single stereotype. Even the news is guilty of not telling the whole story. Take the Genocide against the Tutsis as an example. Based on the stereotype of what a Tutsi versus a Hutu looked like, the Hamitic myth and many others were formulated to explain why they were different. From there, the once fluid social categories became rigid ethnicities. Once Rwandans were identified and discriminated against based on these ethnicities, eventually genocide took place. Now this is not the entire story, obviously, but just imagine if there were no stereotypes of Africa, other countries may have interfered with the genocide, not that we will ever know; imagine if there were no stereotypes placed on Rwandans due to arbitrary differences, maybe there would have been no issues for the international community to interfere with in the first place. My point here is that what is considered a simple mistake or an insignificant stereotype can actually turn out to be more powerful than believed. If we, including myself, cannot change our perspectives of other countries and correct our incomplete stereotypes and beliefs, if we do not become more informed in order to better understand countries’ conflicts, then we already know what will happen; we saw it in 1915 with the Armenian Genocide, in 1975 with the Cambodian genocide, in 1994 and we are seeing it now in Syria. We see and we have seen that there is a very real danger about only knowing a single story. I am asking everyone to question what stereotypes they might have about Africa, Rwanda, and even their own country so as to prevent other major tragedies from occurring in the future. “When we reject the single story, when we realize there is never a single story about any place, we regain a kind of paradise” (Adichie).

    Cutura, Jozefina. "VOICES of Women Entrepreneurs in Rwanda." International Finance Corporation: 13-15. Web. 
    Dixon, Robyn. "Fear and determination for Nigerians at heart of #BringBackOurGirls". Chicago Tribune 22 May 2014, sec. Nation and World. Web. 
    Government of the Republic of Rwanda. "Health System". Jan. 2014. Web.
    Inter-Parliamentary Union. "Women in Parliaments: World Classification". 1 June 2014. Web. 
    Gupta, Neil. "One of the World’s Tiniest, Poorest Countries Is Redefining HIV Care". The Atlantic 1 Dec. 2013, sec. Global. Web. 
    "Joseph Kony". Wikipedia, 1 July 2014. Web. 
    Karuhanga, James. "Rwanda safest place to live in Africa". The New Times 19 Nov. 2012, sec. National. Web.
    McGreal, Chris. "Why Rwanda said adieu to French." The Guardian 15 Jan. 2009, sec. Education. Web. 
    Mushikiwabo, Louise. "Africa needs responsible reporting". The Guardian 24 Jan. 2010, sec. World News. Web. 
    Ngozi Chimamanda, Adichie. "The danger of a single story". Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. TED, 1 July 2009. Web.
    NKUYUBWATSI, BERNARD. "MOOCs take off in Rwanda: Accreditation, sustainability and quality issues". Wordpress.com, 1 Oct. 2013. Web. 
    Overseas Security Advisory Council - Bureau of Diplomatic Security U.S. Department of State. "Rwanda 2013 Crime and Safety Report". 23 May 2013. Web.
    Republic of Rwanda Ministry of Education. "2012 Education Statistics Yearbook.": 1-2, 37-38, 42, 48, 54. Web. 
    "Rwanda grenade attack in Kigali kill two". BBC News Africa 4 Jan. 2012, sec. World. Web. 
    Smith, Alexander. "Nigeria’s Boko Haram Islamists Mock #BringBackOurGirls Effort". NBC News 14 July 2014. Web.
    Tostevin, Matthew. "How to win business in Africa?". Reuters, 14 Jan. 2010. Web.
    Transparency International. "Corruption Perception Index 2013". 5-6. Web.
    The World Bank. " Helping Countries Combat Corruption: The Role of the World Bank”. 1 Sept. 1997. Web.

    A unique aspect of genocide is its' universalism. Genocide, itsembabwoko, jenoside.

    Different words but at its heart, an extraordinary event which can afflict any nation in any part of the world.  Political theorists have identified and agreed on 8 necessary stages of genocide.  When I visited Rwanda under the IGSC exchange program in the summer of 2009, I learned that the importance of each and everyone of these 8 stages.  

    It is not a thoughtless, chaotic act that spontaneously occurs.  It is not like a witch casting a spell on someone to go and kill.  It is not like one day a perpetrator became a crazy person . Genocide requires calculation.  Whether against Armenians, Hereroes, Jews or Tutsi; genocide has been planned and constructed by intelligent people.  A {musazi} or {basazi} cannot carry out all eight stages - - classification, symbolization, dehumanization, organization, polarization, preparation, extermination, and denial.  

    Instead, genocide is perpetrated by intelligent and charismatic people. It is rationally and carefully prepared and all eight stages are considered even before the act of genocide occurs.  These are some of the people who perpetrate genocide: 

    Politicians who have been elected based on their intellect, charisma and ability to inspire and lead people. 

    Generals and other military officials who are masterful tacticians, with years of training at prestigious military academies.

    Celebrities such as singers, DJs and actors.

    Businessmen (and businesses) with the know-how and connections to create multinational corporations.

    Professors and scholars with a litany of degrees and academic accomplishments.

    For instance, would anyone say that Dr. Leon Mugesera is a stupid person?  It is easy to simply denigrate the past perpetrators by concluding that they are purely evil beings or the devil incarnate.  This is dangerous - - if we look at someone like Joseph Goebbels (with two words or a little more identify who he is) or Dr. Mugesera and merely summarize their actions in one or two words, it minimizes the careful consideration and brainpower which is necessary for a genocide to take place.  If we fail to analyze the details of the 8 stages and how they came about then how will we ever be able to prevent a future genocide?

    Indisputably these people fit the definition of “evil,” but they are also rational humans who made what they considered to be rational decisions.  Goebbels had a Ph.D.  Dr. Mugesera graduated from college, taught in Rwanda for ten years, and then spent five years in Canada pursuing his doctoral degree.  Dr. Mugesera is an archetype of genocide perpetrators.  This can seem very scary; intelligent, successful, and wealthy people planning genocidal exterminations.  But it doesn't have to be.

    Through CNLG's Interdisciplinary Genocide Studies Program, I along with dozens of other American students have learned about the Genocide of the Tutsi in Rwanda.  The IGSC has also provided a forum for Rwandan collegiate students and researchers to continue to study and produce reports on the genocide and its effects.  Such efforts at education and awareness have a legitimate and lasting impact on our leaders of tomorrow.

    I praise the CNLG for its efforts on this 20th anniversary of the Genocide of the Tutsi.  We know that genocide has happened.  We know that there are those people who still, to this very day, maintain genocide ideology.  And we know that if they had the chance, they would try to finish what they started.   However, we also know that the CNLG and Rwanda are focused on ensuring that it does not occur again.  Today's youth, whether in Rwanda, America or elsewhere, will learn about genocide.  Whatever career paths they may choose, they will remember and reflect on what has happened in Rwanda and around the world.  They will rise up and be able to discern the beginnings of those infamous eight stages and respond accordingly.   

    Daniel Kordenbrock, J.D.

    Columbia, Missouri  2014.

    Participant in IGSC Summer Program 2009

    CNLG Intern Summer 2010

    The Unsung Heroines of Kabakobwa, in the South of Rwanda

    By Prof. Rangira Béa Gallimore

    “My child, this Kabakobwa you have heard of. This Kabakobwa in 1994! Ahaa! My child, this Kabakobwa! Ahaa! Silence…”{ (Mwana wanjye iyi Kabakobwa wumvise! Iyi Kabakobwa, muli 1994! Mwana wanjye, Ahaa!....)}! It was in these short sentences that the oldest of the Abasa women of Sahera told me the story of Kabakobwa, the Hill of Women as the Kinyarwanda name suggests. 

     In my long journey as a researcher, it took me a while to know what really happened there in 1994. The origin of Kabakobwa was never explained to me. But the Ahaa interjection and the Rwandan stop hand sign that accompanied it were enough! The silence of this old lady was not empty. It was populated by unspoken words that she indirectly handed to me. As African storytellers say “a story is not true unless it is told many times and by different storytellers.” This story of the origin of Kabakobwa was dictated to me by my own imagination. My grandmother used to tell me that she hoped that all the stories she handed to me would be told some day. She said never to keep these stories in my stomach because it would explode. “Tell them, she said. Even if you forgot, use your own imagination!”  That is what I am about to do.

    A long time ago, if my memory and imagination serve me well, it was before the arrival of Christ in Rwanda. Kabakobwa was then very famous! During that time, three or four older women used to accompany young girls to go fetch straw grass to cover the clean floor of their parents’ house {(guca inshinge)}, or to cut herbs to be used as a broom,  {(guca imyeyo)} or simply to weave the beautiful Rwandan baskets and mats{ (kuboha)}. Once, the women and the girls were on the top of the hill, no one else was supposed to climb the hill, no man was allowed to approach Kabakobwa. It was a taboo. On the top of Kabakobwa, was a big flat field always covered with green grass no matter the season. This was a space reserved only to young women whose skin and whose age were as tender as the fresh grass of Kabakobwa. It was a female sanctuary. Some people used to think that older women used to accompany the younger ones just for protection.  But for the perceptive, there was more to it.  

     The curious young boys could not keep away. They climbed Kabakobwa anyway, stealthily, hiding in the bush. Like everyone else, they didn’t dare to approach the top. All they could hear were girls’ giggles; all they could tell was that these girls were happy together. These secretive onlookers thought that the girls were talking about silly things. They really didn’t know. The beautiful girls in their early teens were talking about love, the love of a man. They were sharing their future dreams. Each one was wondering out loud who would be her Prince charming. Some romantic dreams were shared on the top of Kabakobwa under the supervision of a few elderly women who made sure the girls learned their lessons of the day. None of these boys ever really knew what was the motive of these female excursions on the top of the hill until sunset. None of them ever understood the real cause of their laughter. Only the girls and their teachers knew the secrets of Kabakobwa. The same secrets they will in turn pass to their own daughters and grand daughters, through generations so that this female tradition will never disappear. 

     Unfortunately, this chain was suddenly broken by the arrival of Christ. He needed a big house on the top of the hill from which he could watch his followers so that they didn’t fall into the devil’s trap. But nobody dared to erect Christ’s sanctuary on Kabakobwa. Instead, a big church was built on the opposite hill. That solution seemed to be a problem. Women felt exposed to the sight of Christ and his male followers. Anytime, they tried to engage in their usual innocent rituals, they felt watched. They felt Christ’s gaze from far. They couldn’t stand the fact that they were somehow exposed to the sight of his males. Also, the church banned what it called pagan sexual education. Kabakobwa was desecrated and demystified. In the eyes of the newer Christians, Kabakobwa was an abomination according to church teachings. God’ spokespersons put an end to the female gatherings on Kabakobwa at sunset. Nobody asked the opinion of the elderly women who also visited Kabakobwa during their tender age. The hill of women was deserted and nothing was put in its place. 

     After this strict interdiction, Kabakobwa was no longer popular. The young virgins and their aunts were powerless to act. Christ and his male followers took over all of the surrounding hills but they were afraid to touch Kabakobwa. The only symbol of female power left in the area was the statue of the Virgin Mary smashing what looked like a snake. It didn’t stand on Kabakobwa but on the opposite neighboring hill in front of a big Catholic church. The collective imagination declared that it was a statue of a white lady who came out of heaven to smash the sins committed by successive young female generations of Kabakobwa’s visitors. All girls and boys got baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost or Spirit. Amen!  The hill of women became dull and boring. The church bells and Christians’ songs sometimes interrupted this monotony. Of course, none of those performances could compete with the rhythmic songs of the young female dancers of the old Kabakobwa. 

    The story of Abasa, I am about to tell you is not fiction, it is not a product of my own imagination. It was told to me by eyewitnesses, survivors of Kabakobwa who now live in Sahera, in the today Sector of Mukura, District of Huye. It was painfully narrated by the Abasa women of Rwanda. As the name of their association suggests, Abasa is a group of women who look like, who share publicly the same destiny: the burden of rape that they ironically endured on Kabakobwa during the genocide against the Tutsi in 1994. Thousands of Tutsi of Mukura were tricked by the leader of that region who told them to take refuge on Kabakobwa where they could get his full protection. They went there with their wives, children and grand children, mothers and mothers-in-law. It was a crowd of almost 60,000 people. They went there for protection. To their big surprise, death waited for them. 

    It took days for Abasa women to tell me their story. Their story was punctuated by a heavy silence, a silence, filled with words that cannot be uttered. They could not express their fate on Kabakobwa in simple everyday words. They couldn’t say what they went through in 1994. In a way, language failed them as the following statements shows. “I do not know how to say it” {(Sinabona uko mbivuga)},  “what I have seen can seal your mouth” {(ibyo nabonye ni agahoma munwa)}, what I endured is a calamity {(Ibyo nanyuzemo ni akumiro)}. Sometimes, they said, “even when we have the urge to talk about it, we are afraid and ashamed and then we suddenly cut our tongue and swallow it.  We don’t want to be nicknamed loose canons” {(erega hari nubwo dushaka kubivuga, twatangira, tukagira isoni, maze tukaruca tukarumira, ejo batazatwita ba bavugirije)}. 

    It is also on the top of Kabakobwa that their husbands and their children were hacked to death. In a just a few weeks, hundreds of Tutsis who had gathered on the small hill of Kabakobwa, were killed, exterminated except a few women who survived brutal gang rape in the muddy sorghum fields, in front of their young sons, in front their in-laws. Taboos were publicly broken, there on Kabakobwa. What a shame! The young girls painfully lost their virginity on Kabakobwa. How ironic! The older women were sexually tortured and mutilated. Today, the latter express their ordeal in these simple statements: “Some of us are no longer women” {(Erega Nyabusa bamwe muri twe ntitukiri abagore)}. They lost their femininity on the top of Kabakobwa. How ironic! How ironic that rape was their destiny on Kabakobwa!  Kabakobwa!  Who could have imagined it? Who could have pictured this? No one except the perpetrators. 

    The divine church that had chased the young goddesses of Kabakobwa long ago, didn’t protect its followers during the genocide. And where was the Virgin Mary in all that? Quite as a church mouse, her foot busy smashing the snake. Why didn’t she smash the heads of those Interahamwe killers and rapists? Even in the face of the rape of a 7-year-old young girl, she kept quite. Why didn’t she use her other powers? Maybe like the Abasa of Sahera, she cut her tongue and swallowed it. What she saw was beyond imagination.

    Through the years, holding each others’ hands in their long journey of recovery, the Abasa women have tried to tell their stories as their poetic emblematic motto says: 

    {Muze  mureba Abasa barasabana} (Come and see the Abasa, they welcome you)

    {Muze murebe Abasa, basangira ijambo} (Come and see Abasa, they share their stories) 

    {Muze murebe Abasa barasangira} (Comme see the Abasa, they share everything)

    Today, they share the same horrible past of 1994 but they are no longer defined by it. Out of the ashes of 1994, these women discovered a strength they never knew they had. They testified against the perpetrators in local, national, and international courts. They spoke out so that justice could be served, so that their loved ones in the mass grave could get a decent burial. Recently, they were able to find the remains of the loved ones. It is thanks to the president of the Abasa that these remains were found. For many years she was considered crazy. She cried out to the new leaders of Huye telling them that under the wooden trees planted on the top of Kabakobwa, there is a mass grave where thousands of Tutsi were buried. Nobody wanted to listen. Like the Greek Cassandra, she was telling the truth that people didn’t want to hear. She was called crazy. But recently her cries were heard. They gathered to burry the remains of the loved ones with honor on the top of Kabakobwa. A big memorial is built on the top of Kabakobwa to honor these victims of the genocide. 

    Almost twenty years after the genocide against the Tutsi, during this month of honoring women, I am telling you this story so that you will know the double burden of Kabakobwa. Now that you know this story, tell it so that your stomach doesn’t explode. Tell it so nothing like this would ever happen again on Kabakobwa or elsewhere in the world. Tell it so that we can honor the unsung heroines of Kabakobwa and all the unsung heroines of Rwanda who endured rape but refused to be defined by it. I honor them in this time of remembrance, April 2014.



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