By Paul Ejime
The ethnic genocide that killed more than 800,000 people in Rwanda began 27 years ago on the 7th of April, 1994 in the East African country.
After years of denial, the report by a French government’s 15-member Commission of historians placed ‘overwhelming responsibility for the 100-day mass killings on France.
The report acknowledged that France was “blind” to the preparations, but said there was no evidence of complicity by Paris.
It, however, indicted former French President Francois Mitterand for “failure of leadership toward Rwanda.”
In his remarks to mark the latest anniversary of one of the deadliest massacres in human history, French President Emmanuel Macron, who set up the Commission two years ago, agreed with its findings.
His Rwandan counterpart President Paul Kagame, who severed diplomatic relations with France in 2006 over the genocide dispute, also described the report as “an important step.”
The killings were carried out by extremist ethnic majority Hutus against the minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus. They were stoked by the shooting down over Kigali of the plane carrying Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana and his Burundi fellow Hutu colleague Cyprien Ntaryamira.
Habyarimana was a French ally and the genocide led to accusations and counter-accusations of liability between Paris and Kigali, culminating in the severance of diplomatic ties.
Kagame belonged to a Tutsi rebel group during the genocide period.
The United Nations, which pulled out its forces at the start of the killings and the international community in general, was heavily criticized for the mass killings in Rwanda.
Rwanda under Kagame has since shaken off the ashes of the genocide, witnessing one of the highest economic growths in the world with accelerated development and national reconciliation.
But a majority of African countries still endure destabilizing external interferences compounded by domestic leadership deficit, ethnic conflicts, corruption and failure of governance systems.
But as happened with the Holocaust, beyond sorrow or the usual acknowledgement of responsibility, are African countries not entitled to concrete remedies/reparations for global failures and injustices regarding events such as the genocide in Rwanda, the trans-Atlantic slave trade, colonialism and neo-colonialism?