Rwandan president teaches history class

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Paul Kagame, a former guerrilla leader who played a crucial role in stopping the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, substituted for Professor Murray Rubenstein in his "In Search of History" class on Wednesday. A surprise visit of Rwandan President was organized by mtvU, MTV's 24-hour college network, which taped Kagame's teaching for one of its Emmy-nominated "Stand-In" series, due on air at noon on May 16. The Rwandan leader spoke about his homeland, its people, economy and the war.

"Genocide has a long history," said Kagame. During the first half of the twentieth century, the territory of Rwanda was a protectorate of Belgium. The colonialists favored the minority Tutsis over the majority Hutus, introducing in 1926 a system of identification cards that separated the two groups.

Kagame, who is Tutsi, was born in 1957 in the western region of Gitarama, Rwanda. In 1959, the revolt led by frustrated Hutus ousted Rwandan's last monarch, a Tutsi King Kigeli V Ndahindurwa. Thousands were killed in the revolt. Fearing persecution, over 150,000 ethnic Tutsis fled to neighboring countries, Kagame's family being of them. Like many other refugees, they settled in Uganda.

Kagame recalled that when he was about three and a half years old, he asked his father: "How can we be refugees forever?" As a grown up, Kagame played an instrumental role in founding the Rwandan Patriotic Front, first a guerrilla group determined to oust the Hutu-led government of Rwanda, now the country's ruling political party.

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