Even if for only the major motion picture about it, Hotel Rwanda, you probably recall the unspeakable genocide of well over a half a million people, in 1994, perpetrated by the majority Hutu people against the minority, but ruling power, Tutsi. When the Tutsi finally regained control of Rwanda, the Hutu fled, many to Zaire, or modern day Congo. Ironically, the Tutsi, in a sense, assumed a more permanent control and power over Rwanda (which they had ruled for centuries before the genocide anyway).
But, as a result, there remains significant conflict between Rwanda and the East Congo, where many Hutu live. A solar flare of conflict through the years and, for the first time since a 2009 peace agreement, recently re-ignited in violent conflict, M23 rebels (for March 23, 2009, the ratification date of the peace agreement) have brought war to the Congolese government.
In Africa, ethnicity is often employed as a pretext to exercise other and underlying political motives. It’s reductionist, therefore, to blame simply historical ethnic strife or colonialism or any other singular cause. For example, local landowners in the Congo, indigenous to that area, have community grievances distinct from the Rwandan genocide or other macro-regional tensions, which nevertheless Rwanda exploits to its advantage. Apparently experts believe that Rwanda uses these localized interests to perpetuate its own agenda. In fact, in the case of M23, it would voice various local governance and human rights claims against the Congolese government, in some part, to give itself cover in its continuing fight with the remnant Hutu army in the East Congo, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). It’s a conflict for which not even regular observers to it can perfectly tease out the many and entangled causes.
To that end, and endemic to African governance, generally, not just the Congo, there also exists historical weakness in many state institutions which additionally contributes to the civil and violent discord. Sadly, this infastructural inadequacy is intentional. In the colonial aftermath, certain tribal and African dictators purposefully kept state instutions weak to insulate their own power. Chaos among those who might threaten their authority kept opposition diffuse and weak.
Like a big fish in a small dysfunctional pond. Power of this kind is really a form of cannibalism — at the expense of your own. We all despise a bully. And, even as I believe that confidence can grow in a manageable environment, this sort of small-minded leadership has stagnated peoples in this region for decades.
Don Cheadle needs to EMP the whole thing, Ocean’s Eleven style, and not reprise any role in a Hotel Rwanda Part Deux, heaven forbid.
Performed by ipoetlaureate. Music produced by Sundance.
Today’s blong here:Small Man