Just before the genocide broke out in Rwanda in 1994, a silent campaign had been carried out to pollute the minds of a certain tribe against the other. Through covert propaganda and at times outright broadcasts on radios like Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM), the Hutu, especially youth, were made to believe that Tutsis were the biggest threat to their “prosperity” (read political power). Therefore, to ensure this continued “success and dominance”, it was important to send all these “cockroaches” to their creator. That is how up to 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus came to be slaughtered in this genocide.
The real contest here, however, was about political dominance. The Hutu Habyarimana regime having realized that it was becoming increasingly unpopular and the RPF rebels led by Fred Rwigyema were gaining ground, decided to whip up tribal sentiments, with disastrous results of course.
Many of those youth who were armed with machetes to hack people, probably did not even know what governance meant. The neighbours, who rose up against neighbours just because they belonged to the “wrong” tribe, probably were not even living on more than a dollar a day. They were condemned to the same fate but somehow, someone had convinced them that the “other” was the problem.
But that is how our politicians whip up tribal sentiments to pursue selfish interests.
The same scenario replayed itself in Kenya after the disputed 2007 December presidential polls. With cries of cheating from both sides (PNU and ODM), Kenya became paralysed and divided on tribal grounds. Central Kenya, for example became a no-go area for Luos, while the greater part of Rift Valley province was turned into a blood field for the Kikuyu. They were massacred without mercy.
And again, it was the politicians behind the machinations.
Wondering why I am going about this topic? I was really infuriated this week when I heard Uganda Security Minister Amama Mbabazi claim the investigation into his questionable land sale to the National Social Security Fund is driven by tribal hate.
Through a minion, MP Barnabas Tinkasiimire, the minister claims people asking simple questions like why procurement rules were broached, are actually aiming at bringing down Bakiga politicians---what BULL SHIT!!
Like the Tutsi and Kenyan politicians, Mbabazi and co. are jumping to the oldest tricks in the trade. Whip up tribal sentiments, make the whole tribe feel persecuted and divert attention from the core issues.
Unfortunately (or is it fortunately?), such tricks have worked. In 1999, President Museveni accused his now political rival Kizza Besigye of using the wrong forum, when he pointed out weaknesses in the NRM. He ordered a court martial for him, considering that Besigye was a soldier. But a tribal delegation from his native Rukungiri made an exodus to Kampala and the court martial was called off.
The same happened when former health minister, then primary education minister Jim Muhwezi was accused of abuse of office. A group of elders from Rukungiri came to Kampala to make a case for their son. Much as Parliament censured him, he still bounced back to Parliament and later Cabinet.
I will therefore not be surprised if a group of elders from Kanungu trek to Kampala to save their son. Irrespective of what the parliamentary probe might discover and recommend, the elders will prevail upon the President and their son shall remain in public office.
That is why I shed off tribe long ago. I am an African. Period.