It is 25 years now after the Genocide against the Tutsi, tremendous efforts have been put in place to reconcile the once torn-social-fabric. Despite the effort, 39.9 per cent of the citizens felt that there are Rwandans who still sow divisions and genocide ideology while 30.5 per cent of them contended that there are Rwandans who still view themselves, and others, through ethnic lenses.
Rather, progressively, depending on the testimonies of the Rwandans both in the country and outside, the future of reconciliation is inevitable.
Rodrigue Maniliho is among the few people who dared to dream big and risked his life despite incredible odds against him. He was the first president of the Rwandan Diaspora in Zambia, a position he held until his forceful deportation in June, 2014 influenced by FDRL/ interahamwe leadership in Zambia.
However, after comprehensively travelling the country and having done extensive research, and having been convinced beyond any reasonable doubt about the progress being made by the country in all sectors, him and his colleagues obtained Rwandan Identification documents, relinquished refugee status, went back to Zambia and formed Rwandan Diaspora Association in Zambia.
The aim of the Rwanda Diaspora in Zambia were to promote unit amongst patriotic Rwandans living Zambia and extend it to others if possible, disseminating correct verified national current affairs information, to combat widely circulated propaganda, combat genocide ideology especially as is seeded in the young ones and to mobilize willing returnees to come back to their country.
His journey started back in 2011, while a fresh graduate, a newly wed and an employee of Zambia’s largest hospital.
“I returned from Zambia to Rwanda after 17 years of exile. Yet, the memories of what I had seen and heard during the genocide against the Tutsi still lingered in my brain, daring to come back was not an easy decision,” he said. “In 2011, the idea was of founding an advocacy group ‘Come and see go and tell’ consisted of Rwandan youth diaspora in Zambia to tell the truth about the Rwanda’s progressing unity and reconciliation and refute the deniers plot,” he added.
“Our group, at the forefront, aimed to do what everyone else said could not be done; we had heard enough hearsay and as the truth seekers, we decided to take a brave step and find out the firsthand information. We were not the first ones to attempt such a heroic step. But others had tried too. Unfortunately, when they came back they yielded to intimidation, bribery and distorted Rwanda’s image to suit the agenda of the intimidators. Intimidation came from FDRL/Interahamwe remnants still active on Zambian soil,” he says.
“While on tour in Rwanda, it was the summer of 2011, we toured almost the whole country from Gatuna on the Ugandan boarder to petit barrier on the Congo boarder visiting landmarks of war, developmental and recounting on the reconciliatory tracks and also participating in national and regional dialogues,” Maniliho said.
Maniliho, state that, deniers did even spare to tarnish the image of the Rwandan government into a bad image.
“Of course, the majority of Rwandans who were living in Zambia were being cuffed into state of fear to return home due to the false perceptions they had in rumors,” he recalls.
He said through the process the group managed to consult military experts, political and religious leaders, ordinary citizens, and relatives so as to make a strongly informed decision.
He claimed that they got the firsthand information by visiting prison facilities and heard testimonies of a genocider who accepted that he committed Genocide against the Tutsi and asked for forgiveness and testimonies of survivors who have forgiven their assailants to the extent of intermarriages.
“We heard success stories of Gacaca courts in rapid disposal of genocide cases. What we saw was in contrast with what we normally heard from deniers back in Zambia, who actually thought they did not deny genocide against the Tutsi enough. For them, they still wish they could be given a chance to kill more innocent lives,” he adds. “A spirit of tormenting is still haunting them!,” he laments.
He said that the final doubts were quenched fully when we had a meeting with the Rwandan president his excellence Paul Kagame at village Urugwiro.
Maniliho considers that there was a harsh circumstances of constant conflict resolution and problem solving; thus, they made tremendous achievements by fostering a long lasting relationship amongst themselves and working closely with the government institutions that helped them in their program ‘come and see programs’
He recounts that considerable yields were made by visiting and sensitizing refugees in the big camps like MAHEBA camp, mobilized refugees to voluntary repatriate and did it actually.” he said.
“Numerous strides achieved by the Rwandan government speaks for themselves beyond any reasonable doubt and Rwandans continuing and enjoying to be under refugee status they are doing it for personal selfish gains,” he adds.
Maniliho put forward that they met challenging as there were people with intolerant views and divisional propaganda, genociders still harbored in Zambia and disseminating genocidal and divisional ideology.
However, that they rose up to tell a true story about Rwanda, despite, the amassed considerable influence the denier has in that region.
“We still have refugees there, we still have genociders that that need to be put to justice that have genocide ideology and divisionism, propaganda still being disseminated that has to be countered and stopped. However, we have confidence in the official diplomatic ties to volunteer patriots that have vowed to soldier on and eradicate genocide ideology,” he says.
The Express news
By Urinzwenimana Mike
The Express news