Rwanda-France relations: what Rwandans are saying

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much is expected from President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to Rwanda. Whether in buses, restaurants, newsrooms, families, administrations, businesses, etc., the subject is central and everyone has their own commentary. For some, it is time for France to apologize, for others, to make his mea culpa face to face. So many points of view put forward to understand the future orbit of the relationship between Rwanda and France, a relationship long poisoned by the painful episode of the 1994 genocide. After the publication of the French and Rwandan reports, Duclert and Muse by their name, the spirits seem to be heading towards a lasting appeasement. This visit by President Macron is a moment of truth, one that is perceived by both sides as opening a new page between the two countries, between the populations as well. The words that will be spoken at the Kigali genocide memorial, where the remains of 250,000 victims lie, will be all the more powerful and meaningful. Next to the official word, there is that of the Rwandans. Some of them, dressed in various statuses, confided in Point Afrique.

Kalisa Guy, 50 years old: “Don’t wake up old demons”

“I would compare Franco-Rwandan relations to fiancés who quarrel but who do not manage to separate definitively. When they’re not bickering, we see them walking together, whispering to each other and promising each other a better tomorrow, but everyone knows what to avoid in order not to wake up old demons. It is the same between France and Rwanda. The two countries know each other well enough to know how to avoid what poisons their relations… The latent tension requires a sustained attention to avoid the inattention which can turn everything upside down. On the Rwandan side, we are waiting for what may not happen this Thursday or will happen too late, that is to say that France bow to the memory of the victims of the genocide perpetrated against the Tutsis. France will have completely done its humanitarian duty to remember and honor the victims when it has publicly asked for forgiveness. ”

Fulgence Niyonagize: “A lasting commitment between States”

Journalist in Pax Press, a media NGO for peace, Fulgence Niyonagize wonders: “Who loses or who wins in this kind of conflict that goes on forever?” In this case, Rwanda would gain by avoiding losing French investments, and France by alienating itself as a strategic ally given the place that Rwanda occupies in the region. A member of the Commonwealth and La Francophonie, Rwanda can only benefit from a climate of peace which will have repercussions on the daily lives of Rwandans. What to foresee the investment opportunities in various sectors, the granting of scholarships, etc. Improving relationships must lead to tangible things over time. Engagement must be between states and not just between individuals. ”

Maria Namahoro: “The unvarnished truth! “

Widow survivor of the genocide, Maria Namahoro experienced a difficult journey at the height of the events of 1994. “Machete” to death at home, in the east of the country, Maria followed the genocidaires on the way to exile in Bukavu on traces of her only surviving child. “With all the harm they have done us, they should make reparations for the victims of the atrocities they helped to commit,” she said. And to wonder: “How would Macron happen to recognize the truth and ask forgiveness in front of the thousands of victims of the Gisozi memorial?” “. In his view, not to do so would be “to build relations on sand and continue to trap the future of the two nations”. And to conclude: “The unvarnished truth would help heal our inner wounds. ”

ANN: “More than one thing shocked me deeply”

Tutsi from Karongi, in the turquoise zone, ANN explains: “A French contingent had established its quarters at the school group in Rubengera and was doing humanitarian work there for the refugees. This is where I lived with my husband, a Hutu who was a teacher there. I worked with French soldiers on a daily basis in this place where the bourgmestres, their officials and the Interahamwe militiamen met. More than one thing shocked me deeply and tarnished the image I had of the French. For example, all around the camp, the militiamen continued their carnage. »And to recall this great meeting convened in the multipurpose room of the Ajemac association by Colonel Sartre at the Rubengera camp. “The colonel explained that following the advance of the enemy, we had to flee to Zaire,” she said. And to conclude by alluding to Agathe Habyarimana, at the place of which justice should take its course: “Failing to establish its criminal responsibility before the law, France should ask for forgiveness and pay reparations even if, for her , there is no price for so many innocent lives lost. ”

Ibuka: “The moment to track down, arrest and defer all the genocidaires”

“The Ibuka association welcomes the significant advances in Franco-Rwandan relations. The Duclert report is a good springboard for the fact that France recognizes its responsibility in the genocide perpetrated against the Tutsis. Nevertheless, France continues to be a haven of peace for many genocidaires who have brought mourning to Rwanda, ”said Jean Damascène Ndabirora Kalinda, legal affairs commissioner for the Ibuka association. He thinks that “this step taken should help track down, arrest and bring all suspects to justice.” “This is the right time for France to do us the justice we have sought so much. We hope this is really a step forward and irreversible, ”he concludes.

MK : « We need material and psychological redress »

Widowed from the genocide, lonely and infected with HIV, VKN is on treatment and has a difficult life. “From my tormentors and their accomplices, I can ask nothing more than to know why they did this to us. What have we done to deserve such a fate? », She asks between two sobs. Her neighbor, MK, also a widow, who had a child born of a gang rape “under the eyes of French soldiers”, does not mince words. “We need material and psychological redress, not political discourse. My child, rejected by everyone, needs to be rehabilitated, ”she says.

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