By Maniraguha Ferdinand
President Paul Kagame of Rwanda hailed President’s Emmanuel Macron ‘courage’ in recognizing the role of France into the history that lead to the genocide against the Tutsi in 1994.
Kagame was speaking at press conference with Emmanuel Macron, after the latter’s historic visit at Kigali genocide memorial on Thursday, May 27, 2021.
After touring the memorial, Macron said that French authorities of 1990s blindly kept helping a regime that was planning to exterminate part of its population in Rwanda.
“By engaging in a conflict in which it had no precedence in 1990, France failed to hear the voice of those who had warned it, or else it overestimated its strength by thinking be able to stop the worst” he said
“France did not understand that, by wanting to prevent a regional conflict or a civil war, it was in fact standing alongside a genocidal regime. By ignoring the warnings of the most lucid observers, France took overwhelming responsibility in a gear that ended in the worst, even though she sought precisely to avoid it.”
He went on asking apology. “As I stand with humility and respect by your side today, I come to recognize the extent of our responsibilities [..]Recognizing this past, our responsibility, is an unrequited gesture. Demanding towards ourselves and ourselves. Debt towards the victims after so many past silences. Gift to the living whose pain we can, if they accept, still ease. This journey of recognition, through our debts, our donations, offers us hope to come out of this night and walk together again. In this path, only those who have been through the night can perhaps forgive, give us the gift of forgiving ourselves”.
Macron is the first France’s president to recognize his country’s role into the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.
President Kagame thanked Macron for such milestone aimed at normalizing relations of both countries which has been bad for past 27 years.
“This was a powerful speech, with special meaning for what is taking place now, and which will resonate well beyond Rwanda. His words were something more valuable than an apology: they were the truth.”
“Speaking the truth is risky. But you do it because it is right, even when it costs you something, even when it is unpopular. Despite some loud noises and voices, President Macron took this step. Politically and morally, this was an act of tremendous courage”, Kagame said.
For Kagame, Macron is different from other Western people who see Africa as a continent with losers.
“This is not to say that Africa has no bad actors. It does. They are there; they may even be numerous. But no more so than everywhere else in the world. The difference is that Africa as a whole comes to be defined by those bad actors, whereas elsewhere, these bad actors are exceptions.”
“This assumption creates a reference point where Africa is always down, while others are up. It secures those others in the conviction that they have a natural right to do and say whatever they want in relation to Africa, to give lessons and pass judgment on our choices.”
President Macron committed to redefining Rwanda and France relations that will benefit both sides.
He brought a donation of 100 000 Covid-19 vaccines to Rwanda and he promised more developmental agreements to follow.