Genocide ideology. The heart of every Rwandan skips a beat on hearing, seeing or just thinking of that expression. The consequences of the ideology have touched, and left an indelible mark on, all Rwandans: young, old, female or male, whether they were victims or perpetrators of the 1994 genocide.
While it is true that pre-colonial Rwanda may have been led primitively by kings who were sometimes brutally tyrannical, it must be admitted that at no time was a whole ethnic group targeted for extermination. If anybody was targeted for punishment, it was as an individual or a few individuals.
If anything, the raison d’être of the authority of the time was first and foremost the protection of the lives and rights of all citizens. That is why it is said that no single slave trader ever dared venture into Rwanda. All Rwandans were viciously protective of their own and their land.
It was under colonialism with the evangelisation by colonial administrators and their accompanying missionaries that ethnic divisions were sowed. The divisions that were thus sowed slowly grew to a point where the colonialist thought he could exploit them and perpetuate his rule.
In the end, the perpetuation of colonial rule was not realised, but a section of Rwandans had been radicalised and the succeeding political authority was informed by the same thought. It is that thought that guided Rwandan politicians through the pogroms of post-independence Rwanda and culminated in the 1994 genocide.
And it is that thought that Rwandan elements in and outside the country want posterity to inherit. So, if Rwandans of today want to cement policies that speak to their aspirations and their shared destiny, they must again learn to be viciously protective of their own and their land, even if it means protection from some of their own.
Whoever harbours or preaches the thought that a section of the Rwandan community is only good when dead is an enemy of the whole community. And such people have been there, and they are still there, and the gory result of their sermons was the death of more than a million Rwandans in 1994.
However, if you think such ideologies are a monopoly of barbaric countries like Rwanda, perish the thought. There is a litany of examples elsewhere, and they stretch down the whole span of history.
Those who claim not to understand the meaning of the genocide ideology in Rwandan statute books could as well tell us that they don’t understand the meaning of racism. The racist ideology is probably as old as humanity and whole communities have been killed in its name. That is why it is condemned worldwide.
Indeed, if you are not a victim of the “overbearing attitude of the West”, why do you say you can understand the law against Nazism but cannot understand the law against the genocide ideology? That is tantamount to saying that you recognise the holocaust of the Jews but not the genocide against Batutsi.
An American who says that in Rwanda the law against genocide ideology is designed to target opposition politicians should not claim to know why a bigoted body like the Ku Klux Klan is outlawed. In fact, such an American should wake up even today, seeing the way the Tea Party Patriots are going.
What makes Nelson Mandela stand out in the world, if it is not the fact that he led his people in the fight against Apartheid South Africa almost all his life and, when finally he triumphed, imposed the rule of law where the rights of all South Africans were steadfastly protected?
So will it be with Rwandans. They’ll see that strong barriers are put in the way of those who promote the same ideas as those that led to the 1994 genocide and the carnages before. It will not matter that any law has not been conceived by our permanently paternalistic partners.
Rwandans understand genocide ideology only too well, but they also know that it may be unfathomable to others. That is because they have been to the abyss and only they know what is there. Among the things that led their country there is genocide ideology.
When a child clandestinely sends a note around in class that says “We shall finish you, whatever happens!”, it ignites an alert in a Rwandan. That child’s mind is being soiled by a more powerful, evil mind that wants a clone in its place when it is no longer.
Rwandans know that societies heal slowly. But they know that, slow as the healing may be, it is possible. They know, because they saw a similar possibility. When their society was spinning down the black hole of destruction, they saw that only they could halt that freefall.
People of goodwill, and they are legion on this earth, grieved with them and came to their assistance. However, Rwandans have no time for cynics who think laws are only “good for the people” when designed by them.
Those cynics, as far as Rwandans are concerned, should get a noose, find the nearest tree and do the needful.
The law against genocide ideology is unequivocal.