Libmonster ID: U.S.-1485
Author(s) of the publication: A. A. PANOV
Educational Institution \ Organization: Institute of Africa, Russian Academy of Sciences

Keywords: Rwanda, genocide, historical memory, international forums

In 2014 Rwanda has celebrated an important historical milestone: the 20th anniversary of the Tutsi genocide (April 6-July 14, 1994). Traditionally, from April 7 to April 14, Rwanda hosted a series of events dedicated to the memory of the victims of the genocide. This year, due to the round date, their scale was much higher.

The "Kwibuka-20" campaign*, launched on January 7, 2014, was held not only in Rwanda. It was accompanied by the action Urumuri Rutazima (Kinyarwanda - "Torch of Memory") - a solemn carrying of a torch symbolizing the memory of the victims of the genocide through the cities and villages of the country, as well as abroad, where there are official Rwandan representative offices and/or diasporas.

On February 12, 2014, the memorial event was also held in Moscow, at the Institute of Africa of the Russian Academy of Sciences, where Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Rwanda to the Russian Federation Dr. Jeanne d'Ark Muzhavamaria delivered a lecture 1.

Comprehensive assistance from the Rwandan Embassy in Moscow and personally from Ambassador Muzhavamariya made it possible to organize the author's expedition to the main events of April in Kigali in the format of an official visit.

The results of this trip to the Land of a thousand hills, observations and conclusions of the author are offered to the attention of readers.

On April 8, 2014, at the Caritas bookstore in the center of the Rwandan capital Kigali, I witnessed a rare rush for an African bookstore to see the next issue of the pan - African magazine Jeune Afrique, which published perhaps the most scandalous interview of Rwandan President Paul Kagame 2 (more on the interview below).

The expected idea of the magazine's publishers to dedicate the second April issue to the 20th anniversary of the Tutsi genocide in Rwanda and include an exclusive interview with its president, a man who represents all the changes that have taken place in this small but proud and ambitious country with a dramatic history over the past two decades, turned into a huge diplomatic scandal. Kagame once again recalled the responsibility of France and Belgium for organizing the genocide and stressed the unwillingness of the French authorities to recognize this fact and take it into account when assessing the political situation in Rwanda.

After the magazine went on sale in Paris on April 5, former French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe addressed President Francois Hollande, in which he called Kagame's statements during the interview unacceptable and called on the head of state to "protect the honor of the republic."

A little later, the French Foreign Ministry, through its press secretary Romain Nadal, issued the following statement:"...In such circumstances, the Minister of Justice, Ms. Taubira, will not be present in Kigali next Monday, April 7. France regrets not being able to attend the ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide... " 3

Such an unexpected turn of events took everyone by surprise. Not only journalists, public figures and Rwandan politicians, but also numerous French guests who were present in Kigali at this time on the occasion of an important anniversary. Many of them participated in the International Forum "After the Genocide: Learning from the Legacy, Taking Responsibility", held at the Rwandan Parliament Building from April 4 to 6. One of the most important figures was another former French Foreign Minister, Dr. Bernard Kouchner.


The Rwandan Parliament building is located on top of one of the central hills of Kigali - an excellent target for shelling. It was decided to leave the traces of shells left here since the summer of 1994 as a reminder to future generations of parliamentarians about the most difficult test for the Rwandan statehood in its entire history.

For a long time, this country existed somewhere on the periphery of the world community's attention, and little was known about the processes taking place there. Then, suddenly, for many years, its name became a symbol of an enduring and incomprehensible nightmare for the human mind, a humanitarian catastrophe that called into question the continued existence of this state and personified the deep socio-political crisis in which the Af found itself-

Kwibuka (kinyarwanda) - remember (author's note).

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rika in the early 90 - ies of the last century, in general.

Today, Rwanda is once again being cited as an example of good governance, sustainable economic development, and sound investment in human capital. 4

The international Forum dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the Tutsi genocide brought together experts, politicians, government and public figures and young researchers from all over the world to discuss programs and outcomes of two decades of post-crisis development in Rwanda, exchange experience in building strategies to prevent and counter genocide, mass violence and crimes against humanity. Holding such an event once again emphasized the desire of the Rwandan authorities to take an important place in this area of the modern system of international relations and to turn the difficult historical experience experienced by the people of Rwanda into the basis of a new political culture and national idea that binds society together.

The list of speakers at the forum was impressive: the Ministers of Rwanda-Foreign Affairs (Louise Mushikiwabo), Justice (John Businje), Education (Vincent Biruta), President of the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda Judge Van Johnsen, French social activist who helps to catch and bring to justice the organizers and participants of the genocide Alain Gauthier, one of the founders of the International Criminal Court and the main ideologues of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF)5, and now Senator Tito Rutaremara, Andrew Wallis is a British historian and author of " Secret Ally: The Untold Story of France's Role in the Rwandan Genocide." As well as other researchers and historians from Rwanda, Europe and the United States, representatives of the Holocaust Foundation (Southern California, USA), the Holocaust Memorial Museum (Washington), members of the German Bundestag and the British Parliament.

The author was present at the Forum only on the third and final day of its work. But it was the last day, as it turned out, that was the most interesting: the main guests of the Forum spoke: the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Rwanda L. Mushikiwabo, one of the founders of the Aegis Trust Foundation James Smith, as well as the aforementioned B. Kushner, one of the founders of the international organization Doctors Without Borders.

Bernard Kouchner is a man in Rwanda who has long been well-known and even very popular. During the genocide, he organized the evacuation of Tutsi children from an orphanage in Kigali, and also acted as a mediator between the French government and the RPF during the deployment of the French peace operation Turquoise in 1994. He has been a public critic of Paris ' policy towards Rwanda in the F-era. Mitterrand (19811995). In 2010, when Kouchner was Foreign Minister, there was a long-awaited warming in French-Rwandan relations, which were severed in 2006 after the French side blamed RPF leaders for the deaths of passengers and crew members on the plane of Rwandan President Juvenal Habiarimana on April 6, 1994.*

Such an important experience, plus Kushner's personal background, participating in missions in a variety of hot spots, from Biafra to Kosovo, allowed him to keep confident and even, sometimes, very risky, but, however, always successfully joke, reducing the degree of tension in the audience. So, he began his speech with the following introductory remark: "As a French politician and a French minister, it is difficult for me to speak to you now and it is difficult to maintain my popularity. But I'll try. And I'll try it in French. You are a French-speaking country, don't forget that."

"No, it's not an insult," Kushner continued calmly, " it's just a statement of fact." Further, recalling how during the difficult French-Rwandan relations, he, along with employees of French non-profit organizations, was forced to leave Kigali, Kouchner exclaimed: "You know, Kagame isn't always fair!" Taking into account the context in which his speech took place, and the composition of those present in the hall, a similar statement can be made from other lips

* In addition to Habiarimana, Burundi's President Cyprien Ntaryamira, a number of senior Rwandan and Burundian officials, and three French crewmembers were also killed in the crash. It was the death of the latter that served as the basis for the investigation of the circumstances of the plane crash by a French court.

** Here and further: all quotes from speeches made during the events dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the commemoration of the victims of the Tutsi genocide "Kwibuka-20", held in Kigali from April 6 to 14, 2014, are given in accordance with the audio files recorded by the author on the dictaphone and the field diary.

page 54

it might sound quite provocative.

But in this case, it only brought smiles and a slight hum of approval. "Aha, you're not applauding me now, you're freaking out, yes!" - Kushner continued to delight the audience with his sense of humor and communication talents.

The main pathos of his speech was reduced to a rather pessimistic assessment of the actions of the international community to prevent humanitarian disasters in the zone of armed conflicts. Starting with the fact that the world once failed to protect his grandparents, who were tortured by the Nazis in Auschwitz, and emphasizing that since then, he has spent his entire life trying to help civilians in war zones, Kushner sadly admitted that, despite numerous conventions and agreements, so far he has not been able to do anything about it. help for victims of military conflicts always comes too late. "It's easy to blame the wrong policies," he said, arguing with Luisa Mushikiwabo, who spoke before him, " but understand that the main thing for a politician is to be elected. And if you send your troops to a war zone outside of your own country, expect that the next time the voters don't vote for you."

Kushner recalled how in May 1994, after returning from Kigali, he had to spend a lot of time proving to his fellow citizens, politicians and experts that everything they saw in the reports of journalists working in Rwanda was not fiction, not staging or exaggerating colors, but the most real reality that this is genocide and that all this is happening in reality.

Many in France, he said, could not believe for a long time that a genocide was taking place in Rwanda, and they disapproved of the idea of sending a military contingent there. The only way out of the current impasse, according to Kushner, could be the establishment of an international service responsible for conducting humanitarian operations to rescue civilians, which would be completely depoliticized and would operate independently of the elected state authorities of national states.

Naturally, he could not ignore the demarche of the French government, which just this morning (April 6) announced its decision not to send an official delegation to Kigali. Kushner admitted that he was disappointed with this decision, and does not consider President Kagame's short remark in an interview to be a sufficient reason for complicating the already difficult relations between the two countries and disrupting such an important visit in the political and symbolic sense. He advised the Governments of France and Rwanda to set up a joint commission to establish the truth about the responsibility of the parties for the 1994 tragedy and to find a common position on this issue, and even suggested that P. Kagame and F. Hollande offered his services as an intermediary.

In turn, Luisa Mushikiwabo noted that Kagame's words in the interview did not contain a single word of untruth, that all these facts have long been known and that the crisis in relations between the two countries can and should be overcome, but not at the cost of forgetting and denying historical truth.

Finally, speaking after L. Mushikiwabo and B. Kushner, James Smith, speaking about ways to prevent mass violence in military conflict zones, noted that the main focus should be on preventing violence and promoting peace at the grassroots, individual level, since, ultimately, in the conditions of impotence of the state, supranational institutions and civil society, to prevent the death of civilians. people who find themselves in social groups at risk, and it is ordinary citizens who are able to help them escape.

In support of his words, J. R. R. Tolkien: Smith told a story that excited the audience, which was included in an educational program developed by specialists of the Aegis Trust Fund headed by him.

It was the story of how a small ten-year-old girl, Grace, who had fled with her family to Zaire in July 1994 from the advancing RPF troops, picked up a baby on the way, which she found screaming on the chest of a dying maternal Tutsi from machete blows. Members of Grace's family, who were walking in the stream of refugees, in response to her pleas to help the baby, demanded that she leave "these cockroaches" if she did not want to bring trouble to her family. The little girl found herself in a situation of difficult choice. Despite the demands of her family, she took the child and took it with her to a refugee camp in Zaire, hiding its origin from Interahamwe fighters. If either of them found out that she had picked up a Tootsie child, both of them, and possibly the entire Grace family, would face a terrible death. However, she did not break up with little Vanessa (as she called the girl), and they currently continue to live together as two sisters, or rather as mother and daughter.

"When I think about what this little girl who said' no ' to genocide did when she was right in front of it," Smith said,"I think about how much we could all have done to save civilians from genocide and mass crimes, given our capabilities."

After that, B. Kushner spoke again. Responding to a question from the audience from a man who also participated in the rescue of Tutsi orphans from Kigali in the summer of 1994, he could not cope with the excitement and continued to stay in the chair. Standing up and coming close to the audience, he recalled the events of those days for such a long time, in detail and emotionally, that the presenter, in the end, had to stop him in order to stay within the schedule and rules of the meeting.

In such circumstances, Professor Mukesh Kapila of the University of Manchester, who was completing the forum, said:,

Interahamwe (Kinyarwanda) - "Those who work together". An organization of Hutu paramilitary militias formed in Rwanda by leaders of the radical wing of the ruling National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development party. It played a key role in the 1994 Tutsi genocide.

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no one was listening anymore: all the attention and emotions of the guests and participants, of course, were lost in the speeches of previous speakers.


"After the death of my entire family, I was the only one who could remember her and write about everything that happened to us, and I decided to write to give vent to all my feelings." These are the words of Skolastic Mukasonga, who has already become a living classic of Rwandan literature thanks to her novels "Inyenzi, or Cockroaches", "Barefoot" and "Our Lady of the Nile Cathedral" 6, winner of several prestigious international awards.

She was one of the main guests at the Literary Cafe, an event that brought together African writers-the authors of the most famous works of fiction about the Rwandan genocide-on the evening of April 6 in the conference hall of the Rwandan Tax Service. Readers and just anyone interested could listen to their short speeches, as well as participate in the discussion.

In addition to S. Mukasonga, the audience included Boris Boubacar Diop (Senegal), Veronique Tajo and Maimouna Coulibaly (Ivory Coast), Monique Ilboudo (Burkina Faso), Kulsi Lamko (Chad), Femi Osofisan (Nigeria), Delila Bouato (Algeria) , and Josias Semujanga, another Rwandan writer and writer. literary critic.

Guest performances alternated with short theatrical miniatures, in which young members of the Rwandan drama club presented fragments of works by authors present on the stage. The main slogan of the event was displayed on a screen installed in the hall: "La memoire d'un genocide est paradoxale, plus de temps passe moins on oublie"*. The hall was decorated with posters of the famous South African avant-garde artist Bruce Clark from the series "Upright Men", specially dedicated to the Rwandan people who survived the genocide.

According to the unanimous opinion of all the authors who spoke from the stage that evening, the main reasons that prompted them to start writing on such a complex topic were not only a sense of the need to honor and perpetuate the memory of hundreds of thousands of victims of the genocide, but also to help ensure that nowhere else in the world, and especially in Africa, it never happened again.

B. B. Diop and K. Lamko also called on African and, in particular, Rwandan writers to write more boldly and actively on historical topics, including in African languages, in order to become the authors of their own history, and not leave it entirely at the mercy of foreign intellectuals, making their peoples dependent on someone else's speculation and outright manipulation.

In this sense, Rwanda is moving confidently in the right direction: in the same Caritas bookstore, I found a number of extremely interesting studies of national history published in recent years by Rwandan authors, including publications in Kinyarwanda, in particular, the first volume of the fundamental historical study "Discovering the History of Rwanda and Burundi" 7.

In 2013, the National University of Rwanda Press published a collection of short stories by Rwandan authors, most of which were previously little known to the general public.8 The collection includes more than 70 short stories written in three languages-Kinyarwanda, French and English-in the period from the end of the 70s of the last century and up to the very year of publication. The authorship of most of them belongs to students of the National University of Rwanda of different years, so that the publication, in addition to philological, is also of sociological interest, reflecting the evolution and continuity of the tradition of literary reflection of young national intellectuals of different eras, their view of the country, society, and their place in it.

But I was most impressed by my meeting with Dieudonne Gakire, the author of the recently published book "The Child and His Dreams"in Kigali, also in three languages9. This young man, only 23 years old, is a student at one of the Rwandan universities, and he belongs to the category that in Rwanda is called " survivors "(English) or" rescape "(translated into Russian - "survivors [of the genocide]").

He first came up with the idea to write a book during an excursion to the Genocide Memorial in Gisozi, a district of the capital Kigali, organized by the Ministry of Education for Kigali students. The memorial's exposition includes the so-called "children's section" - a gallery of portraits of children killed during the genocide with brief biographical references. It was there, Dieudonnet told me, that he decided to write a book dedicated to the generation of children of the genocide era, adding, of course, his own personal experience and reflections on the past, present and future of Rwanda.

The original idea of the author was to invite fellow members of the association who survived the genocide to write down their memories of childhood and the tragedy themselves and publish a collection of such autobiographical essays. However, when he tried to conduct a similar experiment in his cell, he found that not all of his comrades could adequately and sincerely express their feelings on their own. So, Gakira had to try himself as a journalist and conduct interviews with his young heroes himself.

Over time, it was decided to expand the format of the project, and with the support of some Rwandan entrepreneurs and politicians, he also managed to interview several participants of the genocide and even a journalist from the Thousand Hills Free TV and Radio Station (RTLM). Valerie Bemerici, who actively incited hatred towards Tutsis, is currently serving time in Kigali Central Prison.

The publication of the book "The Child and his Dreams" came just in the year of the 20th anniversary of Geno-

* The memory of the genocide is paradoxical: the more time passes, the less it is erased from memory (French).

page 56

cida. The lack of a contract with any major publisher forces him to distribute his books independently for the time being, and while the Rwandan authorities and civil society organizations are helping him promote the project domestically, he does not have access to the international book market, and therefore this publication risks not being appreciated.

The theme of genocide in literature, theater and journalism was continued during this week: on April 11, in the same hall of the Rwandan Tax Service, the presentation of the theater project "Rwanda 94" by the Belgian group Groupov, which has been successfully performing in Europe for many years, since 1999, was held.

After playing on the screen video clips of performances that took place on the European theater stage, the authors invited a group of representatives of the Rwandan diaspora living in Belgium to the stage, who performed the monodrama" Long List of Questions " (La litanie des questions).

To a somber musical accompaniment, participants take turns asking rhetorical questions that expose the inaction, irresponsibility and indifference of the international community: European politicians, church hierarchs, UN staff members, intellectuals from different historical eras who prepared the ground for the establishment of a racist regime in power in Rwanda, and then passively watched pogroms and ethnic cleansing, justifying them with alleged costs in the transition from a despotic-monarchical system to a democratic republic and from a one-party authoritarian regime to a multi-party democratic one:

"Don't let them forget that the Tutsis were for them: descendants of Ham, Noah, Tibetans, Ethiopians, the master race, the Hamite race, African Jews. Tutsi [for them] - noble, invader, feudal lord, pastoralist, aristocrat, lord, oppressor, tall, handsome, smart, cunning, foreigner, lazy, born to command, liar, anti-Westerner, Communist. Hutu [for them] - Bantu, simpleton, native, serf, farmer, peasant, slave, suppressed, little nigger, rude, submissive, approachable, reliable, native, friend of the white man, good Christian. Twa * [for them] is a monkey, a pygmy, with a difficult character, small in number, a rogue, ferocious, dirty. Don't let them forget that we were all Rwandans first and foremost."

Sharp criticism of the church cut the ear:

"Will they tell us about Father Alvoet, who said:' History for us began in 1959. Everything that came before was Tutsi culture. It was hard for me during the Hutu uprising, because there were corpses... but deep down I was happy. I buried the first Tutsi leaders in Gitarama while the Hutus galloped around with machetes, shouting, "They must go back to Abyssinia!" They didn't object to us burying these people, they just told us: come back tomorrow - we will have more."

After recounting a long series of similar misconceptions, mistakes, and apparent atrocities committed by Christian missionaries and local priests in Rwanda, the final exclamation is: "Don't let them forget that this is the result of the Christianization of Rwanda! This is the teaching of the theocratic church!"

According to my long-term observations, such anti-church radicalism is characteristic of Africans living in the West, but in Rwanda itself, even after the very unseemly role that the Catholic Church actually played in the schism of the Rwandan people and in the very implementation of the genocide, its authority as a whole as a public institution remains very high.

(The ending follows)

* Twa is the smallest of the three sub-ethnic groups in Rwanda and Burundi, accounting for about 1% of the population in both countries. Traditional twa activities include hunting, gathering, and pottery (author's note).

1 For more information, see: Petrov N. I. KWIBUKA-20; memory of the Genocide in Rwanda / / Asia and Africa Today. 2014. N 5, с. 52-54 (Petrov N.I. 2014. KWIBUKA-20: pamyati genotsida v Ruande // Aziya i Afrika segodnya. N 5) (in Russian); Mujawamariya Zh. d'Arc. Launch of KWIBUKA-20 // Ibid., pp. 54-56 (Mujavamaria J. d'Arc. 2014. Launch of KWIBUKA-20 / / Aziya i Afrika segodnya. N 5); Shlenskaya S. M. Rwanda after the genocide // Ibid., pp. 56-59. (Shlyonskaya S. M. 2014. Ruanda posle genotsida / / Aziya i Afrika segodnya. N 5) (in Russian)

Soudan F. 2 Du genocide a la "rwandite": Paul Kagame. Entretien // Jeune Afrique, P. No 2778. 6-12 avril 2014, p. 22-23.

3 Rwanda: commemorations du vingtieme anniversaire du genocide - reaction de la France aux accusations du president du Rwanda (5 avril 2014) - 64/article/rwandacommemorations-du-vingtieme.

4 For example, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in his speech at the Amahoro Stadium on April 7, said: "Over the years, you, the people of Rwanda, have demonstrated to the world another fundamental truth: the power of the human spirit... You and your country have found a way out of the abyss, an escape from terrible memories, a way to a new life. You have shown the world that transformation is possible." In turn, Chairman of the African Union Commission Nkosazana

page 57

Dlamini-Zuma, also delivering a speech at the ceremony, remarked: "It is not written anywhere that Rwanda or Africa should remain in poverty. Rwanda is an inspiration to Africa; it has done things that are hard to imagine to change the lives of its people. I salute the women of Rwanda and its leadership for the social and economic changes that have been made in that country. Today, Rwanda is the fastest growing economy on the continent."

5 The Rwandan Patriotic Front is a party transformed from the military-political movement of the same name, founded in 1987 on the territory of Uganda by Rwandan refugees (mainly Tutsis), with the aim of fighting for the right to return to their homeland and ending the policy of discrimination against Tutsis in Rwanda. In 1990-1994, the RPF military organization fought against the Rwandan government forces in the northern part of the country. In 1993, the RPF leadership participated in peace talks in Arusha (Tanzania) and signed an agreement with the Government to create a coalition cabinet and integrate RPF fighters into the national army. The Tutsi genocide that followed the death of Rwandan President Juvenal Habiarimana in a plane crash on April 6, 1994.. I left these plans unfulfilled. On July 14, 1994, the RPF took the capital city of Kigali and stopped the genocide, forming the basis of a new transitional coalition Government. In the parliamentary elections in 2003, 2008 and 2013, the party achieved a convincing victory, each time winning an overwhelming majority of parliamentary seats. The party's leader, Paul Kagams, has been the country's president since 2000.

Mukasonga S. 6 Inyenzi ou les caffards. P., 2006; La femme aux pieds nus. P., 2008; Notre-Dame du Nil. P., 2012.

Nyirishema C. 7 Ibyatahuwe mu mateka y'u Rwanda n'u Burundi. Kigali, 2013.

Nkejabahizi J.C. 8 Rwandan Short Stories in English, French and Kinyarwanda. Butare, 2013.

Gakire D. 9 A Dreaming Child. Kigali, 2014.


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