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Ghosts of Rwanda

Hi Everyone! I don't know how many of you guys stayed for the movie this past Wednesday (I had to leave before it was finished myself), but the part that I did see pissed me off. Namely, the part about Belgium persuading the U.S. government to withdraw its' peacekeeping troops, and to encourage the UN to withdraw as well because 10 of their soldiers had been captured and killed. What a joke! First off, the fact that Belgium has the nerve to send in their peacekeeping troops like they actually care about the people of Rwanda (Congo, Burundi, Uganda, take your pick) when they are the country that was not only responsible for the Berlin Conference being assembled (King Leopold II), but also as the people/government that is responsible for the "ethnic conflicts"/genocide that erupted in 1994. See, back when the onslaught of colonization of Africa began in the late 19th century, the Belgium troops and governmental infrastructures purposefully split the people of the countries they conquered into different ethnic groups. You know, the whole divide and rule theory (which seems to have worked very effectively). Before the reign of Europeans in Africa, "Tutsi" simply distinguished those who had cattle from the "Hutu" who were the farmers and agriculturalists. When Belgium established dominance in this area, they took the label "Tutsi" and applied it arbitrarily to the people who were lighter skinned, with more European features (i.e straiter noses, straighter hair, taller/thinner stature etc.) and placed these people perceived as descendants of...oops can't remember King David?? I will look it up, anyways and placed them into the favored positions of power over the majority "Black" African who now are known as the "Hutu". It is from this premeditated restructuring of the social fabric in Rwanda that the now infamous Genocide gets its roots. The fact that Belgium tucked its tail and ran from it's "creation" so to speak, because 10 soldiers were killed, to leave over 800,000 people to be massacred is absolutely ridiculous. And of course, everyone must have noticed how the European governments were quick to rush in and pull all the white people out while leaving everyone with dark skin to rot. I wonder if they would have taken the Black Americans if they had been present, or would have assumed based on skin color that they deserved to get left behind?? This episode, which took place almost 13 years ago, is a very telling example of the status of the Black man/woman in contemporary society. I could go on and on about this, as I have been studying it for quiet some time, but I will stop here. I would love to get some of your thoughts and feelings (and feedback)! Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Comments

Very well said! Yes, I agree with your idea how the leftovers of old colonial politics still damage ex-colonized nations, especially in Africa. Let me take another example. During the last decade, Liberia has suffered from its Civil War. Liberia was established by both native west Africans and African American immigrants. Even though the later named the country "Liberia" as an homage to their freedom from slavery, they employed the atrocious ways of exploiting "the inferiors." Backed by the U.S. many dictators oppressed the indigenous people. During the second civil war (1999-2003), more than 200,000 people were killed. However, by keeping silence, the U.S. government was blamed for its connivence in the political brutality.

And I wonder how Darfur relates to what Devon is saying in terms of the construction of race and the role of colonialism. I don't know anything about the history of Sudan or how race was constructed, I just know that last year I went to a documentary about Darfur sponsored by Mizna (local Arab American arts organization) that turned into a heated debate between Arab Sudanese who were arguing that there was no genocide in Darfur and others in the audience who were arguing that there was a genocide. One of the Arab Sudanese people talked about how the racial difference between the black African Sudanese in Darfur and the Arab Sudanese who are killing them is not visible to outsiders- an outsider can't tell the difference between these two races visually, but the two sides know who each other are. The difference is not religiously based, as it was in the conflict in Southern Sudan, because both sides are Muslim. Does anyone know the history of how these two races were constructed and if colonialism played a role in it?

Devon- will there be a new link for this weeks readings?