Remembering Rwanda: Has Much Really Changed?

7 April 1994 was the first of a 100 days of horror for Rwanda. One ethnic group took it upon itself to exterminate another. Close to a million people died.

People who had been friends, relatives or at best neighbours ate up poisonous propaganda and slaughtered many on that basis.

The world said never again. Never would such a thing be allowed to happen anywhere in the world.

How the world was found wanting in the run-up to the genocide is well-documented. Many conspiracy theories have been offered. Trials have been held and 49 convictions have passed through the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

But have we learnt anything?

We would like to say yes because that many people have not perished in one go. But the world looks away in areas where genocides are taking place. They are not as dramatic as Rwanda but in various hot spots across the world, it is happening. There are flash points from time to time, with Palestine and Kenya quickly coming to mind but every single day, a man, woman or child, loses a life because they happen to be of the ‘wrong’ ethnic background.

And noone is paying attention to that. In Zimbabwe, we are getting a lot of hate speech in reader comments made on sites such as newzimbabwe.com. Some may say those are isolated incidents and are the ramblings of mad men but someone out there is reading those and seeing twisted sense in them. The tribal hatred is being stoked and one incident could cause some of those people to react in a way that would have made them sick a few years ago.

Rwanda may be happening in your space right now.