Rwanda's History Too Controversial to Teach

Roundup: Talking About History

William Wallis, in the London Financial Times (April 17, 2004):

Forgive thy neighbour How does a country recover from genocide? A decade after the slaughter of 800,000 Rwandans, the government is concentrating on justice for the Tutsi victims. But many Hutus suffered too and the latest measures are struggling to bridge the deadly ethnic divide...

Rwanda's history is considered too sensitive to be taught in schools, although teachers are confronted every day by their pupils' questions about the genocide. As Oswald Rutimburana at the country's Unity and Reconciliation Commission argues, the history books are filled with manipulation and lies. Infected by Rwanda's schisms, historians often display visceral contempt for each other's theses. A balanced and non-polemical version of Rwanda that could be taught in school without engendering new prejudice has yet to be written, he says.

But there is debate, out of public range, about the soundness of fresh official attempts to paper over such gaping cracks. Even within the ranks of government there are some who fear that history is again being dangerously reinterpreted, that by smothering open discussion of all aspects of Rwanda's past, the Tutsi-dominated government is masking it's own vice-like grip on power and creating new divisions.

For the Rwandan government the passing of this decade, and the faint spotlight this has brought, is an opportunity to promote the re-emergence of their nation and to prick foreign consciences anew.

comments powered by Disqus