Rwanda – What Lessons for Namibian Youth? [analysis]

TWENTY years ago, in Rwanda, approximately 800 000 to 1 million Tutsi and some moderate Hutus were massacred in what we now know as the Rwanda Genocide.

The facts at hand indicate that throughout the course of 100 days from April 6 to July 16 1994, more than six men, women and children were murdered every minute of every hour of every day for those 100 days of the genocide. Between 250 000 and 500 000 women were raped during those 100 days and as a result of this rape, up to 20 000 children were born from those women. More than 67 percent of women who were raped during the genocide were infected with HIV and AIDS. In many cases, this resulted from a systematic and planned use of rape by HIV+ men as a weapon of genocide. There are 10 times as many widows than widowers almost 50 000 widows of the genocide. Nearly 100 000 survivors are aged between 14 and 21, of which 60 000 are categorised as very vulnerable and 75 000 of survivors were orphaned as a result of the genocide.

Over the past two weeks, Rwandans commemorated 20 years of the genocide and remembered the painful past that left the country devastated, the young parentless, and the elders destitute. With the commemorations, Rwanda also started to observe a three-month mourning period, in memory of the painful past, which plunged the country into unimaginable darkness. The genocide surely presents lessons for youth everywhere else in the world, Namibia included. What sparked the genocide was selfish interest by people who used vulnerable youths to almost wipe out an entire tribe. It is also not difficult to see that it was selfish, tribal interests that formed the basis of the genocide.

Namibia has fashioned herself as – ‘A Visionary Nation on the Move Towards Vision 2030’. This is an ideal that has no place for tribalism, greed and selfish interests. It is an ideal, which the young people should protect and defend by not allowing themselves to be used by people who have nothing else to worry about, but their own interests. Like many other countries in Africa, Namibia also comes from a painful background of racism and tribalism that are tools that were used to divide people. Sadly, we observe, although subtly so, that there are some among us who have no other weapon than tribalism that they use to incite tension among people. Granted, we live in a society where we are allowed to have divergent opinions about issues. We do not always agree on how to approach issues of common interest and we do not always have the same perspectives about these things. We differ and no laws prohibit us from uttering our differences. However, it is catastrophic to use tribalism to further one’s own selfish ends. It is even more worrying when young people are used as vehicles to further these agendas. Often, it is young people who are desperate to build a secure future for themselves, but have no means to do that on their own. Their gullibility is exploited and they fall prey to the unscrupulous among us who use, abuse and dump them once their questionable objectives are attained.

The Rwanda genocide should be a stern lesson for Namibians, especially the youth that tribalism only serves to destroy a nation. We should not lose our ‘Namibianess’ in the interest of tribalism.

Needless to say, the facts and figures about the Rwanda genocide makes for chilling reading and should serve as a reminder for what we are letting ourselves into as a country if we continue to entertain tribalism. Rwanda offers a lesson in tolerance for each other and acceptance of our differences as a nation with diverse cultures.

Above all, the Rwanda experience also reminds us of where we will be as a country if we allow ourselves to be consumed by tribalism in this day and age. It is also well documented that the international community stood idly by as almost one million Rwandans were hacked to death by fellow Rwandans. Can we expect them to intervene when Namibians also turn against Namibians? The answer from history is a resounding NO! The experiences of Rwanda and other parts of the world that were decimated by tribalism and petty differences should spur us on as young Namibian men and women to jealously guard, defend and protect the gains of our independence and the sacrifices of our forebears.

Failure to do that will be an indictment against Namibia’s youth. It will sit on our conscience and we will be judged harshly by those who will come after us.

Source : New Era