The Ministry of National Unity and Civic Engagement has showed that despite drop in genocide ideology cases, it’s propagation has continued to be visible in neighbouring countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo(DRC).
Minister Dr. Jean Damascene Bizimana said that Rwanda has accomplished a lot in attaining unity and reconciliation since the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi was stopped.
In his report presented to the 2023 National Dialogue Council-Umushyikirano, the minister showed that according to a survey done in 2020, 94.7% of Rwandans believe that unity has been achieved and see it as a responsibility and voluntary commitment they take on.
The survey was based on eight (8) National Programs that have a rate of over 93% that make Rwandans appreciate the progress of unity and reconciliation.
These include: Ndi Umunyarwanda (99,3%); Education for all (99%); Commemorating the Genocide against the Tutsis (99.5%); Citizenship education; Girinka Program (One cow per family) at 98.5%, Good Governance (94,8%); Security (94.3%) and Having equal opportunities and equal rights for all (93.1%).
“Although we have reached this far, we are still not at the level we want to reach. 26.9% of Rwandans still have historical wounds that cause trauma including the youth,” Bizimana said.
According to this census, 65.3% of the population is under 30. Moreover, 78% of people are between 30 and 40 years old.
This indicates that some were children and teenagers, and many were born after the genocide. Nonetheless, some people, particularly genocide survivors, are still dealing with the trauma and pain of the Genocide.
Furthermore, he said Rwanda cannot achieve complete unity with the youth who are at risk of trauma, so they require ongoing care.
Besides these internal challenges, Bizimana showed that the current biggest threat to unity of Rwandans is the concept of genocide ideology which has not yet been totally eradicated though it’s vanishing in Rwanda.
Bizimana said that genocide ideology is more prevalent during the period of commemoration and especially prevailing among the youth.
Bizimana stated strongly that as Rwanda advances its efforts in the fight against the Genocide ideology and
towards building unity among its citizens, it is concerned about the plans for spreading hate speech, lies, and murder against Rwandan-speaking Congolese, especially Tutsi, in the
region and abroad.
Hatred and murder are openly committed against Tutsi Congolese, and the international community and MONUSCO forces are watching, as was the case in Rwanda between 1992 and 1994, when the ideology known as “Hutu power” was promoted; the Interahamwe and Impuzamugambi were formed, RTLM and other dangerous newspapers were published, and bad politicians’ speeches encouraging people to commit genocide were broadcast in front of UNAMIR forces.
“Lies and hostility taught and propagated by ordinary Congolese and some foreigners endanger Rwandan unity and ties with our neighbors because, when a lie is repeated, some people begin to believe it to be genuine,” Bizimana said.
Some of the lies are being spread include that “M23 are Rwandans, supported by Rwanda,” yet the Congolese authorities, who are lying about this, are well aware of the fact that they are Congolese.
They go further to allege that Rwanda intends to steal the minerals of the Congo because it does not have any” however since 1925, Belgians discovered minerals in Rwanda, and created mining companies.
The other stereotypes include the “Balkanization and the Hima-Tutsi empire” used to say that the Hima and Tutsi, intend to conquer Rwanda, Uganda, and Congo; the “Wanyarwanda warudie kwawo” slogan (Rwandans should return to their country), or Tutsis should return to their country in Rwanda; and the “Nyoka asikuume”- an expression used to compare the Tutsi and Congolese snakes, which intends to dehumanize them.
With these and many more demeaning utterances, Bizimana said that DRC has been central in propagating genocide ideology as in 1994.
“The ideology of hatred in Congo is the same as the one that was in Rwanda in 1992-1994, when the genocide against the Tutsis was being prepared, which should be a wake-up call for us to defend the truth and the facts,” Bizimana told the council chaired by President Paul Kagame.
Bizimana stated that Rwandans must not remain silent as those who demonize the country and its leaders do so and called for action especially among youth but also the wider Rwandan community.
“Some know the truth and keep silent; there are young people who do not know much, and who need to know the important facts of history, to be able to debunk the lies,” Bizimana said.
The minister assured that unity and growth is achievable and suggested some of the strategies, built on culture and family values, that would help Rwanda in the journey of strengthening the unity and resilience of Rwandans.
These include strengthening spaces and continue discussions of “Ndi Umunyarwanda” (I Am Rwandan) in the country and abroad at all levels, to review the Itorero program at the village level and to include it in the annual planning at all levels; properly prepare history and civic education teachers, as well as to teach history in all departments of colleges and universities.
With this, every Rwandan who graduates from it is knowledgeable about the country’s history; faith-based organizations: teaching their followers about our history and explaining to them regional problems that affect Rwanda.
Other suggestions are: parents participation in teaching children the values of Rwandan culture, such as fraternity, cooperation, trust, tolerance, discernment, truth, heroism, passion, self-respect, integrity, and others, and to tell children the truth about the real history,
“The country will attain unity and sustain growth and development if we collaborate to put these strategies into action, beginning with the family, because these goals can only be met when they are based on culture and supported by the family,” Bizimana stated.