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Lesson from Rwanda

27 February 2013, 15:06 Cheruo Levi Cheptora

As we edge even closer to March 4th 2013, it will be worthwhile to reflect on our turbulent past and learn one or two lessons from our brothers in Rwanda who experienced the worst ever genocide on our African soil.

Like our case, tribal animosities and ethnic divisions stirred the bloodiest and deadliest confrontation that left millions devastated, homeless, orphaned, crippled and devoured by what appeared as a cruel wave of fate they never would have loved to have a date with!

So many years later, they can boast of an even more united Rwanda, a booming economy, stability and international recognition as a beacon of hope to other feared ‘might-be failed states’ in Africa.

Theirs is a success story that has emanated from an icy past that nearly crushed and crumbled their beloved country into pieces.

It was in April 1994 that the worst ever happened to every Rwandese.

After the death of their President, Juvenal Habyarimana (who was a Tutsi), the people turned wild, inhuman and bayed for each others blood.

The Tutsi and Hutu were then the major tribes in Rwanda even though the latter were less than the former by far.

For many years, the Tutsis had been in power and it was widely believed that their leaders were disproportionately distributing the national cake towards their own!

And in April, real madness began! After a fierce campaign propaganda by the angry Hutus who wanted power too, the people witnessed  HUTU bring 581 000 machetes (pangas) from China and rocket launchers, mortar, bombs, grenades and ammunition worthy close to £18M from Egypt.

Everyone got scared, the Tutsis mostly. Everyone watched as the media spread false propaganda, lies and innuendo to the polarized public.

The churches even started preaching hatred, ethnicity and war.

It was hard to believe what was happening.

One could wish it were not real - that perhaps it were just a mere nightmare that will go away ... it never went away!

The stage was set for War. Every single Rwandese prepared for the worst. Leaflets were distributed all over the country. The horror movie was aired all over the world.

The architects and real actors played their crucial roles - bizarre butchering and beheading of innocent Tutsis commenced ... children screamed, women cried and men wailed.

Within the first one hundred days, almost every Rwandese had turned into wild cannibal - they butchered each other! Slaughtered each other! Ambushed each other!

1 000 TUTSI children were burnt alive in a Polish Catholic Church; 2 500 TUTSI men were bombed to death while hiding in a tiny, crowded Church; around 250 000 girls were mercilessly raped and beaten to death; 400 000 TUTSI men lost their manhood after it was cut in public by the HUTU; 2 000 women were thrown into a pit of fire like dead house flies and endless rivers of blood flowed in almost every street in Rwandan Cities!

The world watched Rwandese children crying and mourning their parents ... it watched as the very same children were being slaughtered with machetes!

It was sad! Painful! Unbelievable!

For 100 days, the Rwandese did the worst!

It was blood, tears, sorrow, pain, death and agony!

In the end of it all, a million lives had been lost ... When the madness stopped, every Rwandese knelt and thanked God!

They were fighting for a politician! Fighting for a tribe! Fighting for power! Yet they gained nothing! Absolutely nothing!

Now back to our beloved country Kenya.

No doubt the two main ‘antagonists’ in this tightly contested presidential race are incidentally from the two perceived ‘big tribes’ - the Luo & Kikuyu.

Take this from the Rwandese - whatever happens, whoever wins, whoever loses; whether they rig or not, whether the loser accepts the results or not; whatever they will tell you, whether they incite you or not; whatever grudge you may have towards the winning tribe or candidate ... in the name of our Living God, do not do what the Rwandese did.

Please, don’t burn that church; do not rape that woman and do not slaughter those children; do not mutilate those hands or legs; do not resolve to use that panga; do not massacre those poor kids because if you dare do, your country, your lives, your economy, your people, your tribe and everything else will never be the same again!

We have built this country for many years with sweat and blood (as a nation, never as a tribe).

We’ve come way too far to turn against a brother simply because we do not hail from the same ethnic group.

As you cast your vote peacefully on March 4th 2013, I want you to reflect on our brothers (the Rwandese) story and never let yourself and this country down!

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