Alexandre Kimenyi
   

Rwandan Memoriam
Never Forget the 1994 Genocide

By Faustin S. Musingo

The world should never forget
that from April 6th thru June 30th 1994,
the Habyarimana’s government militia and soldiers
mercilessly killed at least one million Rwandans, mostly Tutsis.

I. Preamble

This poem is meant to be an enduring memorial
To remember Rwandan victims of the genocide
Who departed without eulogy and proper burial
And died like worms exterminated by vermicide
As orally related by survivors in their testimonial

It reminds us the relatives, friends and their fate
From late fifty-nine thru early July of ninety-four
Who died one by one under the totalitarian state
Based on a racist ideology with apartheid flavour
Commonly known as anti-Tutsi doctrine of hate

It is a tribute to Rwandan Patriotic Front leaders
Whose political party and its army of volunteers
Had the courage and stamina to be the crusaders
To restore law and order as democracy pioneers
Who began this movement as rebellious invaders

It is a salvo to new leaders who kept their word
As they did not avenge the genocide catastrophy
But rather implemented the Arusha peace accord
Which sought to uproot the genocide philosophy
By eradicating its teaching from the public record

It is also a salute for those who worked overtime
And tried to defuse the tragic genocide evolution
By urging the involved parties to meet in wartime
To implement the Arusha accord as the solution
That had eluded the peacemakers for sometime

From the new Rwandan Patriotic Army barracks
To the historic tombstone of the unknown soldier
This is to remember each victim of militia attacks
Who faught so bravely as civilian or bombardier
To win a war against military odds and setbacks

This is also a vivid memo for each and everyone
That absence of war isn't just presence of peace
The former implies lack of hostilities to someone
The latter assumes freedom to live as you please
And neither can be achieved until justice is done

II. The Way They Died

Never forget that victims not only were legion
But, as all of us, were also part of humankind
Brutally murdered not because of their religion
Or for any other reasons one can possibly find
Other than being Tutsi or ally from any region

The carnage lasted approximately ninety days
With no way out for victims inside the country
Sans recess for requiem or respect for holidays
For this was the worst genocide of the century
That should be remembered in Rwanda always

From April sixth to July fourth one million died
Four times that many were displaced or in exile
Including the civilians held hostages and terrified
By militia and soldiers who were violently hostile
Acting as if their deeds were somehow justified

It is ironic and very sad that in all likelihood
Most murderers were not aliens or strangers
Some were Tutsi classmates since childhood
Some were friends who posed no prior dangers
And others resided in the same neighborhood

Those who couldn't kill their Tutsi neighbors
Were assisted by the militia gangs from afar
Who were trained as experts in horrific labors
Whose work was systematically done thus far
Butchering victims without leaving survivors

In rare instances of mixed marriage households
Some Hutus also killed their proper Tutsi wives
By choking them with barehanded strangleholds
Or using weapons like guns and pocket knives
Without disguises such as masks and blindfolds

In mid April, a quarter of million had vanished
Hacked to death by some unruly militia gangs
Brandishing keen machetes bloodily tarnished
As they danced frenziedly with menacing fangs
Amid thousands of corpses horribly blemished

By then, both French and Belgian paratroopers
Had evacuated the last group of alien residents
As RPA soldiers began marching like snoopers
From the north into Kigali on roads full of dents
And crossing waterways without mine sweepers

With RPA forces on verge of taking the capital
Talks continued amid the crash of mortar fire
But as corpses filled morgues in every hospital
There was increasingly no hope for a cease-fire
Since negotiated agreements weren't commital

Outside the capital, huddlers armed with arrows
Some dressed in new clothes looted from stores
Others barefoot and armed with axes and bows
Gave an eerie impression of some zombis galore
Whose objective was to inflict incurable sorrows

At checkpoints these mobs pulled Tutsis aside
And slaughtered them mercilessly on the spot
Including pregnant women and unborn inside
As ordered by the masters of the genocide plot
Who supervised all the killings with loony pride

As marauder gangs roamed with perverse vanity
Thousands of mutilated corpses were everywhere
In a slow river of people deprived of all humanity
Stretching for miles and seeming to go nowhere
In a nation ruined by a system of political insanity

Many attempted to escape with little or no success
For they were hunted everyday using bloodhounds
Or infrared radar helicopters hovering in darkness
Supplemented by the militia to cover all the grounds
In what's been called the cruelest manhunt madness

Few survived by hiding or using artful subterfuge
Most were shot and hacked to death in churches
Where they sought the last protection and refuge
Fleeing the militia slaughter and soldier clutches
As the Tutsi casualties became exceedingly huge

For reason still unknown by Vatican or the Pope
Some Hutu priests also joined in the Tutsi killing
Betraying their peers or strangling them with rope
Without remorse or any indication of guilty feeling
For in order to survive even the clergy had to cope

Death squads even desecrated some sanctuaries
By looting the tabernacles and stealing the pews
And transforming the holy places into mortuaries
Where mutilated bodies layed in the bloody spews
And decayed anonymously without any obituaries

This situation was catastrophic not just in towns
But also in fields with more bodies than bananas
And where rotting corpses littered without gowns
Contorted by agony and the heat of the savannas
That decomposed them into a bunch of unknowns

The stench of death which filled the atmosphere
Emanated from naked bodies crushed with clubs
Including babies laying on ground here and there
Or tossed into rivers or drowned in bloody tubs
As their parents and relatives decayed elsewhere

Along lakes and rivers, corpses washed offshore
Including dead and dying Tutsis floating like logs
Some heading north towards Lake Victoria shore
Where rotten bodies were easy meal for riverhogs
That were so eager to eat the flesh as never before

By mid-May, there were few living Tutsis to save
For the militia had names of all the victims on files
And exhorted more killing to fill every empty grave
By adding dead bodies to the existing corpse piles
To meet requirements of this genocide tidal wave

In the meantime, there was an encouraging report
That the liberation army was gaining more ground
Hammering government troops near Kigali airport
And trying to capture their barracks campground
Amid barrage of rockets and artillery from the fort

Toward the end of May, RPA won a big victory
By taking the capital's airport and its army base
As the murderous soldiers gave up the territory
Fleeing the bombardement from nearby airbase
After looting the entire national bank repository

Convoys of trucks loaded with defeated soldiers
Raced past corpses of children, men and women
Escorting some army cars hauling their brigardiers
Who gazed the heavens seeking miraculous omen
To save both their lives and their weapon carriers

By June, the liberation army had won the contest
As defeated soldiers fled into Butare to the south
Others were heading towards Kibuye in the west
While militia barely breathing through their mouth
Mingled among civilians to escape RPA conquest

Left behind were few survivors at Kigali stadium
Under the protection of some U.N. peacekeepers
Who had no will or mandate as military medium
And served only as refugee camps housekeepers
Throughout the capital city battle pandemonium


III. The Genocide Culture of Impunity

Tutsi genocide sprang from the 1959 Hutu uprising
Which drove the Rwandan monarchy out of power
Via a coup de main that was bloody and surprising
Led by Kayibanda whom Belgium had to empower
As first leader of the new republic politically rising

Kayibanda's Parmehutu party created the Hutuism
A belief that the Tutsi massacre was politically fine
As the basis for Hutu emancipation thru nepotism
That viewed such killing not only as morally divine
But also as politically correct to reach total nihilism

This political belief wasn't different from Nazism
For it was a commencement of a long-term plan
Responsible for Tutsis' exile and their ostracism
During thirty-five years of a tormented life span
Stirred by the government-sponsored terrorism

The ostracism policy had divisive political overtone
That categorized all Tutsis as the black caucasians
Whom Hutus should surely expunge and dethrone
Supposedly because they were hamitic patricians
Who governed for centuries under a kingly throne

Not only Hutus killed Tutsis with total impunity
But throughout the Kayibanda's government era
Their strategy was to dismantle the national unity
Based on some colonial theories of tribal genera
That used ethnicity to divide a unified community

In spite of what the colonial theories proclaimed
Tutsis aren't distinct tribe as commonly believed
Nor are they an ethnic group as oftimes claimed
But are a caste whose status could be achieved
By anyone with certain values socially acclaimed

In Africa, the native language delineates the tribe
Rwanda and Burundi are exceptions to this rule
Because colonialists used tribal policies as bribe
Which the Hutus couldn't refuse or even overrule
Since their interests compelled them to subscribe

Hutus and Tutsis do not have ethnic divergence
Because they belong to identical clannish lineage
And since their ancestry had no tribal difference
The Kinyarwanda is their unique native language
That is spoken by all as the tongue of preference

Despite their overwhelming cultural similarities
The colonialists divided them into tribal classes
Based on their traditional economic disparities
Relative to professional activities of the masses
Rather than their actual intrinsic cultural parities

The colonialists invented the system of ID cards
Which showed both regional origin and ethnicity
And were used nationwide by genocide wizards
To categorize and identify Tutsis with specificity
So as to prevent any Hutu killing due to hazards

Hardliners further refined the ethnicity definition
To distinguish clearly pure Hutus from the Tutsis
Based on children from mixed-marriage situation
Where Hutu man with Tutsi wife produced Hutsis
And Tuhus were offsprings of a reverse condition

This distinction was crucial for the genocide plan
Inasmuch as it was politically used as lethal item
Deemed vital to track members of the Tutsi clan
Targeted for murder by a racist political system
Whose militia was worse than the Ku Klux Klan

Between late fifty-nine thru mid-July seventy-three
Thousands of Tutsis were systematically eliminated
Thru torturous imprisonment and swift killing spree
Which the Hutu military instigated and coordinated
To ensure that no one was to survive or be set free

Tutsi survivors endured awful trauma and torture
Either as poor refugees in very unfriendly nations
Or as hostages denied free arrival and departure
And couldn't travel at will without authorizations
Outside Rwanda and within their local prefecture

IV. The Death Squads

In mid 1973, Kayibanda was forced to step down
Via a coup d'etat led by staff chiefs of the military
Whose aim was to create a nepotism of their own
Based upon political party and regional boundary
That viewed Tutsis and allies as roaches to drown

General Habyarimana was the new regime head
Who not only allowed rival Hutus' assassination
But also was the actual genocide plan spearhead
Who issued a warrant for the Tutsi extermination
That was to be carried out till they were all dead

This genocide plan had a very complex agenda
Including the nationwide mobilization of militia
Trained in anti-Tutsi slogans and propaganda
Which aroused their killing instinct and inertia
And made them terrorists throughout Rwanda

Colonel Simbikangwa was the militia organizer
Not only because he was a veteran military ace
But also because he was a notorious terrorizer
Specialized in killing his victims without a trace
And was notoriously known as Tutsi neutralizer

Most militia recruits were poor and unemployed
They were also young with no hope of any future
Except killing Tutsis which they awfully enjoyed
Socially and politically as money-making venture
That paid them based upon Tutsi lives destroyed

The worst were members of mnrd and cdr parties
That used their radical Mille Collines radio station
As the mouthpiece of all hard-line political entities
That broadcast their slogans throughout the nation
Urging the Tutsi killings as mandatory Hutu duties

These militia death squads had full military support
That was given thru a network called Reseau Zero
Also known in French as the Escadrons de la Mort
Where each member was considered as superhero
Whose murderous deeds were examples to exhort

The militia had established some order of priority
To kill all the Tutsis first regardless of their status
And kill Hutu allies next no matter their superiority
And irrespective of their political party apparatus
If somehow they defied Habyarimana's authority

In order to fully test the genocide plan feasibility
Tutsi massacres were done selectively by sample
Behind the scenes without fanfares and visibility
Like those in Bugesera and Bigogwe for example
Where mass graves are evidence of this calamity

The murderous hardliners did not bother to hide
As they publicly planned their macabre endeavor
And decided to implement their plan nationwide
Pending a go-ahead approval from those in favor
And certain death for all those who did not abide

That is why Habyarimana died precipitously
As mass killings began after Wednesday night
Soon after his own plane crashed mysteriously
During a fatal and memorable April sixth flight
That killed everybody aboard instantaneously

There is a compelling circumstantial evidence
Showing the plane's crash as work of military
That blamed Habyarimana for incompetence
By signing peace accord with their adversary
Thereby jeopardizing the genocide occurrence

Some hard evidence that has newly emerged
Came from a Belgian known as Paul Henrion
Who saw Hutu soldiers when they converged
Carrying heavy weapons to a guarded section
Where the fatal missile was hidden and staged

August tenth CIA report ratifies this evidence
Pointing to the Reseau Zero's Hutu extremists
As the only responsible for the plane incidence
Rather than RPA as reported by the polemists
Whose objective was to confuse their audience

Habyarimana's death was the missing motive
For the militia to go unquestionably forward
Killing Tutsis and their allies as main objective
And seizing their assets as incentive for reward
Since their motto was to take no Tutsi captive

V. The Ten Commandments

Killing strategies were created by Hutu extremists
Who conceived the infamous ten commandments
Describing expected conducts of ideal Hutu racists
As published in Kangura gazette sans amendments
By Hassan Ngeze, the leader of radical journalists

To the Hutu males, the first commandment said
Thou shalt not date, marry or hire Tutsi females
And thou shalt never give them protection or aid
Because if thou do otherwise and are Hutu males
Thou shalt be prosecuted for treason we're afraid

The next commandment stated with solemnity
Thou shalt honor thy spouses and thy mothers
And thou shalt be proud of their Hutu identity
For thyself, thy relatives and significant others
Must constantly remain anti-Tutsi for eternity

The third commandment provided sexual advice
For Hutu women to date only men of their kind
And their men to make ultimate marital sacrifice
By staying home far from the Tutsi womankind
As the only remedy for any mixed-marriage vice

The fourth commandment was even more racist
By labelling any Tutsi as malevolent in business
And by depicting them as ethnically supremacist
Who should be deprived of any financial success
And should be exiled fiscally as Hutu antagonist

The aim of the fifth thru seventh commandment
Was to exclude Tutsis from all public positions
And to bar them from all sectors of government
Especially the military and security institutions
That were reserved only for Hutu staff regiment

The eighth thru tenth commandment plainly read
Thou shalt never pity any Tutsi as a human being
Nor thou shalt help them nor feed them thy bread
And thou shalt never forget and fail to foreseeing
That Tutsis are good only when they are all dead

Habyarimana also had a ten percent golden-rule
That allowed one Tutsi per ten Hutu competitors
And was used everywhere as a selection module
By agencies within both public and private sectors
Where this ratio was undoubtedly kept minuscule

VI. The French Connection

As headlined internationally by various journals
The French provided assistance via its military
Which changed Hutu militia into trained criminals
A profession that is not customary or hereditary
Within the Rwandan traditions and cultural annals

According to media, it is the French interference
That turned the Rwandan nation into killing field
As the international community kept total silence
With U.N. and O.A.U. refusing to be the shield
To protect Tutsis from increasing Hutu violence

France was well equiped and uniquely qualified
To start or stop the Tutsi genocide any moment
But allowed Tutsis to be systematically crucified
Defenselessly without jury to render judgement
Using the trained militia they had early certified

It is common knowledge that the French's ill-will
And the indifference by international community
Bestowed the militia with a national license to kill
As countries like Zaire gave them total immunity
To continue the hostilities without footing the bill

As the genocide reports came from many sources
And the death toll reached hundreds of thousands
France hastily decided to send its military forces
But this decision sank into diplomatic quicksands
Due to covert goal of these underhand resources

France's military goal was to create a safe haven
For both militia and defeated government soldiers
Until all their deeds can be forgotten and forgiven
By mother time and by the French bank cashiers
Whose funding influence has already been proven

Some U.N. members did not have troops to send
Or they had troops but very little financial support
Others had both the troops and money to spend
But would use them only as option of last ressort
Since Tutsi rescue wasn't a priority to recommend

The United Nations not only failed to counteract
But its decision to reduce its military intervention
And its early denial of the killing as genocide act
Clearly indicated it had no means or any intention
To intervene in Rwanda till no Tutsi was left intact

Since U.N. military actions were not permissible
RPA had no other choice but to rely on its troops
To restore the law and order as much as possible
While dealing with the French Legionnaire snoops
Who intervened to make such mission impossible

Copyright @ 1995 by Musingo