In Rwanda, we have realised the need to deal with the collective guilt as a concept, we have had “Ndimunyarwanda” campaigns to help people disassociate with the sins of others and of previous generations. However, we have not dealt with international guilt over the genocide and its consequences. The failure to assign guilt where it is due has led to an image of collective complicity and collective denial, especially by the French. Imagine if a steel worker in Lille, who just makes enough to go see his team play, was told he is responsible for the murder of 1 million people? No wonder they all shrug and deny it. It makes them more pliant towards a genocide denial perspective, and it allows the criminals of the Africa Cell at the Elysee Palace, who ran a genocidal criminal empire to carry on their vampire capitalism. Times are changing in France, the Euro crisis has woken up voters, for the first time they are questioning the narrative. Just like the politicians lied about the deficits and the accounting fraud done on national level, they lied about many other things. Now you see handwringing French people who were children when the Rwanda Genocide happened, express remorse for something they never did. The real perpetrators have no such guilt, it was Modus Vivendi – a way of life, an unspoken agreement that allowed impunity.
“How things change.” He shrugged. The fact that he was speaking English and not French was the biggest change. Imagine the temerity of a lowly clerk to hand him a tender form, he asked to speak to the boss. “He’ll tell you the same.” Mumbled the clerk. This is not how we’re used to doing business, you arrive and meet the minister and tell him how much you are willing to give him, he shakes your hand and you just collect your cheque. It is strange that the 35 km that separate England from France is also in Africans, there is also a mental gap between Anglophones and Francophones and this comes from how we are socialised. Two brothers, one fled to a French speaking country, the other to an English speaking country. Their children will be worlds apart, until one understands the language and culture of socialisation of the other. It is deeper than tongue, it is about perspectives, ambitions, strategy, tactics, because all will be different. The policy of assimilation practiced by the French and Belgians in Africa led to a much deeper hold of colonialism. This was backed up with preferential economic agreements that gave France “First Refusal” on any commodities, military agreements to keep the army small and use French mercenaries, and an oath of undying support to the elite. This is wrecking havoc all around the Francophone zone, weak elites can no longer hold on, the excluded leaders are now forming armed groups to get hold of their resources.
Nightmare in a magical kingdom
There once was a magical kingdom created out of the plains and forests of central Africa, the French were clever in naming it “The Central African Republic” No name, no identity, no nation, just a spot on the map. The highest folly of Francophone African history was the crowning of Emperor Bokassa in 1977 by Valerie Giscard, the French president at the time. It cost over $100m for the ceremony alone, his crown cost $20m in today’s money, all to placate the ego of a cannibal. Bokassa later denied claims of cannibalism but was horrifyingly cruel, many of the worst pictures of the present are mere re-enactments of his brutality, chopping off limbs and biting for effect. The parallels with Rwanda are frightening, machetes by the roadside, hacked limbs, indeed you can transpose the images clearly over each other. It is now you see Rwanda was not an accidental, it was a fault built into the system, the divisive tactics over decades had bred so much distrust in society that mass-murder is an evitable consequence. The unfolding events in CAR are making the French look at this with fresh eyes, but now they are intervening for the sake of it. Intervening without any coherent policy or plan, thus stretching their military thinner and thinner over a wider area. In Guinea, in Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Chad, CAR, and DRC, have conflict, a list of unstable African nations leads with Francafrique nations. 64% of coups were in Francophone Africa but they are only 16 out of 54 countries, France has intervened over 30 times in Africa. My friend said he was praying for the day France loses its colonies in Africa (they were never decolonised) that will be a sad day because many, many Africans will die. France is teetering on bankruptcy and yet it receives $500bn from Africa every year, they can’t give that up, but neither can they stop the forces of globalisation.
Get the Foccart out of here
Without a man like Jacques Foccart, France would be Spain or Italy, it would not have the clout or resources that it has. Free oil, or next to free, from Gabon, billions siphoned off by Total, free yellow cake uranium to run its nuclear reactors, cocoa for nothing just to sweeten the tooth. The French demanded more and more social welfare, more benefits, less working hours and more pay. Someone paid that price, the Africans paid the price to subsidise the social model. The Foccart network was set up in 1960 onwards at the time of decolonisation by De Gaulle, the aim was to strengthen France economically, diplomatically and to fight communism (a nod to the Americans) this created a network of patronage that linked the French political system to the corrupt colonial system, which remained intact. African colonies were forced to keep 85% of their money in Paris, so they can only use 15% of their OWN money. They use a French Guaranteed currency which does not allow them to regulate inflation. They are stuck in exclusive trade agreements with France, so they can’t trade with China, America, India, and other emerging economies that need their resources at a better price. They have no national armies, they are dependent on French support or mercenaries, their French-trained armies are weak and corrupt. There is a small assimilated class who eat brie on pain, drink Chateaux Roux, and watch Canal + in their gameshow bubble while bombs go off outside. The old system of Francafrique is not viable, yet France is paralysed because it relies on Africa for its economic status. International status – they wouldn’t have a UN veto if not for Africa, and for its psychological well-being.
“Many more will have to suffer, many more will have to die, don’t ask me why” Bob Marley Natural Mystic
Name and shame
The comical game of evasion between France and Rwanda has come to its zenith in the trial of Simbikangwa. After 20 years of waiting, begging, threatening, we are finally seeing a genocide suspect being tried in French courts, but there remain 25 unopened indictments. One can’t help but see a slight rouse by the French in trying a sick man in a wheelchair, many French have asked he be left alone to convalesce. There are plenty simpler cases to try, healthy people, open and shut cases, and yet they chose a trial where the identity of the man is in question and will take ages to determine. It is progress, but you can’t help feeling that the French State is doing all it can to avoid exposing the link between France and the genocide. After 20 years, many of the bureaucrats that had links with the genocidal regime are retiring or retired, we will see the French state separate itself from those accused and hold some accountable. We must also stop accusing France as a nation, as they will reflexively revert to denial and counter-accusation. One said to me “how come no Tutsi has ever been charged of genocide?” that is like wondering how a Jew was never convicted of the Holocaust. Genocide is state-sponsored mass murder, it is a 8-step process, not just killing, but 6 levels of preparation, then killing, and finally denial. That is why it is always governments that commit genocide, because you divert all state resources towards killing a portion of your people. The Rwanda genocide against the Tutsi cost over $2bn, so $2,000 per corpse, it has to be planned and paid for.
5 stages of denial
France is stuck between guilt and denial, it has expressed “regret” said they were overcome by “a certain blindness” as Sarkozy put it. An apology that never comes, and even if it did, it would not mean much when the same mistakes and tactics are being used in CAR. France went through the 5 stages of grief but came out the other side as indignant as ever.
François-Xavier Verschave released a book called “Black Silence” about the Genocide in 2000, it was one of the first detailed accounts of the Genocide against Tutsi. It stunned France, or at least those with the guts to read it, while not perfect, it was the beginning of a long internal dialogue in France about their role in the Genocide. The blame was mostly collective, it came at a time when France was riding high; the Euro had come in, the Great European Dream was working overtime. So the French public were not receptive to this message, it was not a time for self-hatred and soul-searching. The narrative held, and soon they came up with a counter-narrative.
Denial – Pierre Pean, a controversial French writer and investigator wrote a counter-narrative called “Black Furies, White Lies” in which he claimed there was a counter-genocide. The double genocide theory went into effect, this theory gained traction in France as a perfect cover for French involvement. They wrapped themselves in the Tricolor “we did it for France”
Anger – France hit back with a counter suit, saying the RPF downed the plane that served as a trigger for the killers. Conveniently ignoring the training they gave to murder squads, the arms and logistics supplied to make it happen, and how they flew out all the highest-ranking suspects and hid them in France. The Bruggiere indictments, they used any legal underhanded trick in the book to discredit the Rwanda government. They increased their funding for rebel groups, the leaders of the murderous FDLR were and are untouched in France while on wanted lists.
Bargaining – this is what Sarkozy did, going all over Francafrique saying “it’s a new game, new rules, mutual respect blah blah blah” Then everything remains the same, nothing has changed fundamentally and they are still dependent on France. A brief detente, then it is Modus Vivendi. New deals are signed on paper but the cut remains the same.
Depression – this is the stage France is at now, seeing its colonies on fire, the Eurodream is fading because the voters have demanded too much and the politicians cut corners to give them this social model. Hollande is the manifestation of this depression, the sad awful realisation. It is like buying cigarettes that fell off a lorry, you enjoy them, you don’t ask question as to why they are cheap. Now at a time when France can least afford the military expenditure they are having to fight on many fronts. In this depressive state, the French can now see the duplicitous nature of their politicians. What else did they lie about? They ask. Many French people desperately want to help, but their help will only make it worse, they will always revert to Modus Operandi and protect their interests first.
Acceptance – in order for France to reach acceptance it will need help, otherwise it will go from depression back to denial and start again. We have to separate the ordinary Frenchman or woman in the street from the policy decisions of a few. It was done covertly and the French voters were never fully told, so their crime is not knowing or not holding their politicians accountable. We need to start naming names, not just the Nation but specific individuals involved. We need to cut the chain of denial, we cannot let another generation believe a lie. Ntawinyara Kwisunzu, no man pisses on his own coiffed hair, no French person will admit their whole country is guilty, but one cannot deny guilty individuals.
To each his portion
The interahamwe militia were a highly organised killing network, they were paid daily and given booze and drugs free, they made sure to include the public in their killing so as to spread stigma. The effect was the same, when the French collusion with the Interahamwe was exposed, they went into a foetal position. The nation was made to bear the brunt of the crimes of a few, and national denial and diplomatic obstruction became the order of the day. Over time, we have built up a good picture of what happened during those fateful months, an archive of the ICTR trials is going to return to be stored in Rwanda. Having a better understanding of the internal players in genocide will give us a better picture of the external players in this tragedy. Soon we will have named individuals to blame, the much bigger issue is – the duty of care. Dutch Paratroopers who were working for UN in Srebrenica, were charged for leaving the men and boys to get killed and saving women and girls. It was a matter of deep sorrow for the soldiers, many of whom felt the urge to resist orders. The soldiers needed absolution for the decisions of their superiors. A Genocide survivor in France could sue the government for ordering their troops not to help local civilians escape the killings. There are haunting videos of Tutsis who were left to die by the French and Belgians, they must get justice. It will settle the current problem facing France in CAR, watching a man being hacked to death but instead of stopping it, you pull out the camera-phone and load on youtube. Duty of care, that is what the genocide was about, the UN and world community owed Rwandans a simple duty of care, as you would save anyone in your home neighbourhood. Unless France develops that duty of care, it will have lost its soul, and lost its world.