Rwanda: How One Girl's Experience Shows Battle to Combat Genocide Ideology Not Yet Won

opinion

On Monday April 15, at around 8:30 pm, Esther Kamikazi (real name withheld for her security concerns), 22, boarded a motorcycle back home from the University of Kigali in Kacyiru. They agreed Rwf800 for a ride to Kimironko.

No sooner had she sat on the motorcycle than the motorist began riding at break neck speed.

Since she had already been involved in a motorcycle accident this year, Kamikazi requested the motorcyclist to slow down, but her persistent requests fell on deaf ears.

The only response from the motorists, as he continued to speed, was that today children are very disrespectful, she narrates.

This response scared her more.

The journey continued and when they reached Simba Supermarket at Gishushu, Kamikazi asked to disembark so she could get another motorist willing to ride at normal speed. He refused and continued with the journey.

At this point Kamikazi started to imagine the worst happening to her. She called her housemate but her phone was off, unfortunately.

She, therefore, cunningly convinced the man to drop her at Equity Bank in Gisementi so she could withdraw money to pay for her ride once they reach the final destination. He complied.

Kamikazi went to the Automated Teller Machine, pretended to be withdrawing money, retuned and handed the motorist Rwf500--a fair fare for the distance they had travelled.

The motorist held the coins, Kamikazi narrates, and literally threw them in her face, which terrified her more.

The motorist then said something that really shocked her.

"I wish all of you Tutsis had been killed and finished; you people are so proud and disrespectful," he angrily yelled.

Too frightened to even memorise the number plate of the motorcycle for future follow-up, she ran away and grabbed another motorbike to her home.

Kamikaze advises people to be very careful while using motorcycles at night, especially during this period when the country marks the 25th commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

"It's better for one who is going to use a motorcycle at night during this period to always note the number plate of the motorcycle and send it to many different people when the motorist is watching so as in case something wrong happens to them, the police knows where to start its investigations from," she advised.

Kamikazi's experience reflects that there are quite a number of genocide ideology cases that are unreported. It also demonstrates that although the country has invested heavily in combating genocide ideology, a lot still needs to be done as the vice is still alive in some people's minds.

In addition, cases of Genocide denial are also still common, including among perpetrators and academics living in western countries, calling for fresh measures to bring the offenders to book.

In a recent interview with The New Times, Modeste Mbabazi, the Spokesperson of Rwanda Investigations Bureau (RIB), said there has been a reduction in the genocide ideology related cases registered since 2017.

RIB statistics show that, in 2017 alone, it recorded 114 cases related to genocide ideology whereas there was a significant decline in the cases in the following year as only 72 cases were reported in 2018 during the commemoration week.

He also noted that genocide ideology has significantly shifted from the educated to the uneducated people compared to previous years.

Mbabazi disclosed that genocide ideology is so common with people aged between 34 and 56 years as many of these were there during the Genocide while others are perpetrators.

"Previously, genocide ideology was propagated by intellectuals but largely suspects are not people with advanced education. They do it in bars or for other reasons," he said.

Whereas serious punishments are given to people who violate the law against genocide ideology, as heavy as 25 years imprisonment and a fine of up to 5 million Francs, this hasn't stopped people from spreading or expressing their hatred to others, especially to survivors.

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