Thursday, July 4, 2019 7:39 pm
By Babafemi Ojudu
I had the opportunity, on Thursday, to attend the 25th anniversary of the liberation of Rwanda. It was a celebration of their country after the ethnic cleansing that saw more than a million Tutsis hacked to death by their Hutus fellow country men
Before I give a short insight into this incident that shocked the world by its barbarity and take a look at its significance for my dear country Nigeria, let me first commend the organization and near perfect orderliness at the venue of the event in the stadium in Kigali.
Everything from the pick up at the airport , to the accommodation in Radisson Blue hotel was perfect . Everyone knew his or her role and carried it out to the letter.
On Thursday , the day of the event , every delegation was given the time of departure from the hotel and it was strictly adhered to. At the venue, seats were labeled, everyone who was supposed to be there knew where he was supposed to be. No pushing , no shoving. Anyone not invited was not seen in the vicinity. The parade was first class. The music was moving.
Order was a concept you will not only feel but could touch. The dignitaries arrived at the allotted time and were assisted to perform the brief rituals of saluting the army in a manner that looked as if it has been rehearsed. And the president, Paul Kagame, arrived. His wife was seated before him and so were all his aides and top functionaries of government. He came alone and had handshakes with fellow heads of state and heads of delegation.
Everything was in place and everyone who had a role to play did so without prompting or having to be corrected. I saw a Third World country with the characteristics of a First World and told myself that Rwanda is on the part to greatness . Merit has substituted for cronyism and patriotism for self seeking. It was two hours of highly choreographed national celebrations with the military putting its discipline , commitment and battle readiness on display and the performing troupe showing the world that without a vibrant culture no nation can attain a great height.
The history of Rwanda , the Rwanda I am celebrating in this article is just 25 years ago. The one before it was a Rwanda of strife, of ethnic suspicion, hatred and death. It took only some bigots with access to radio stations to incite hatred , hysteria ,genocide and before you could say Kagame more than a million souls were lost. They were taken from their homes and slaughtered by fellow countrymen who are of different ethnic groups. Neighbors dragged out neighbors, slit their throats and broke their skulls. Hutus husbands of Tutsis wife offered their wives for the rampaging mob for slaughter out of fear. It started like a joke. Before the world realized what was going on there was massacre that in a jiffy became a genocide.
The memorial in central Kigali stands today as a remembrance of that madness. If you are faint hearted please don’t visit as you will be confronted by bones and skeletons of children of God who were slaughtered like goats by fellow children of God.
Thank God for Paul Kagame and his comrades who 25 years ago came on the scene and roused up the Rwandan nation from the dead and gave it life again . They fought hard and defeated the evil ones . They took up the challenge of building a new nation and gave her people a hope for a better life. Education , health, wealth and a good environment and values that make for progress have defined Rwanda ever since. Today Rwanda is referred to as the Singapore of Africa. Some say it is the cleanest country on the continent. This is what we joined the rest of the world to celebrate on Thursday.
While we celebrate Rwanda, on our way to the airport a colleague played to me on his phone an audio of a WhatsApp message that has enjoyed wide circulation. Its message was that Yoruba should defend their son Yemi Osinbajo who is being held in Aso Villa against his wish by some Fulani after he had resigned in protest for not being allowed to attend a security meeting. That same Osinbajo was there on the stage in Kigali gracefully representing Nigeria at the celebration of Rwanda’s liberation at the instance of President Buhari.
If care is not taken, elements like this may set our country on fire and bring about our own pre- Kagame Rwanda. Imagine how many innocents will die if we are set against one another with guns and machetes. A thousand Kagames may not be enough to bring us out of the abyss. We pray the selfish ones beating the drum of war will listen.