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Lessons Kenya Can Learn From Rwanda’s Genocide, 25 Years Later

Over 95,000 children were orphaned. [PHOTO/ AFP]

A date like today 25 years down the line, Rwanda found itself in a pool of conflict involving the Hutu and the Tutsi, the country’s major tribes.

The massacre was orchestrated by Hutu officials, who were the majority in government. In retaliation, the Tutsis formed the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) in a bid to defend themselves. This resulted to death of more than 800,000 people. These cannot just be termed as deaths, but cold blood murders for lack of a better word.

Unicef says 95,000 children were orphaned in the genocide.

Down the memory lane, people in Rwanda are yet to heal from the massacre. The effects are so severe that even some people lost their names, dates of birth and even their families.

An example is Oswald, who does not know his name, date of birth or any member of his family. He was picked from a heap of dead bodies trying to suckle a dead woman, at the age of three months.

This is just one in many cases of the 100 days of mass killings in Rwanda. Can Kenya, a country of over 42 tribes learn from this? Here are some lessons Kenya and Africa as a whole can learn.

  1. Wounds may heal, but scars will remain

In an article by the BBC, Oswald, however a grownup now, is still looking for links to his family. It is not a guarantee that he will find them. If he does not, this is a scar that will remain in his life forever. This is the same to other victims who lost their loved ones in the genocide.

“I could see other children with fathers, and I started thinking about my own parents,” he told the BBC.

In Kenya, where the tribal card is common, it is no different. Imagine how many lives would be lost if tribes tried to turn against each other. 2007/08 post election violence could be another lesson. In a country with almost 50 million people, the results would be devastating, and the country might never recover.

Read: Kibwezi Pupil Dies After Allegedly Being Kicked By Teacher

2. Tribal fights might solve nothing

The Tutsis demanded an equal share in the government, while the Hutus wanted the status quo to remain. At that time, Rwanda had a population of about 7 million, with  85 percent of the population in the Hutu ethnic group, 14 percent Tutsi, and 1 percent Twa.

Despite President Paul Kagame being a Tutsi, nothing much has changed in government representation in his close to 20 years of power. This means the person you are fighting for might never come to your help when you need him/her.

3. Politicians will always be deceptive

Rwandans were made to believe that members of the opposite tribe were enemies. In fact, during this time, the Hutus referred to Tutsis as Nyenzes (cockroaches). Later, most of the kids who survived the massacre were saved by members of the opposite community.

In the case of Oswald, he was found by a Hutu woman, Josephine, who lost her husband during the genocide. He was killed by the extremists for trying to help Tutsis.

With politics being based on tribe every year, Kenyans should learn from Rwandan counterparts that there is no politician worth fighting for, no matter what.

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Francis Muli

Written by Francis Muli

Senior reporter at Kahawa Tungu, Muli has a passion for human interest stories. He believes in unearthing societal rots that have been hidden from the public eye. He has also carved himself a niche in writing business stories. He has worked for various organisations including Kenya Television Service, Business Today among others. Follow him on Twitter @FmuliKE.

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