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By GHK Lall
I read that His Excellency, President Ali, attended the Commonwealth gathering in Rwanda. I think it was most timely, and of the highest significance that the delegates assembled in that particular place in Africa, given what went on there, and how it did. The mere reminder of Rwanda brings cold shivering, and because of this I discern the extent of its national importance to all of us all the way over here in Guyana. There are too many parallels in the Rwanda horror that should serve as a timely reminder to Guyanese of the slippery tightrope on which we walk ever so gingerly.
Rwanda so hauntingly lovely, that there is a sublime profoundness about its pristine beauty, an incomparable splendor to its magical natural charms. But there was the other side of Rwanda that lay simmering right below the surface sheen. It was of who was favored and held the heights, and who was not, and what they were forced to contend with for decades. It was what the Belgians made possible with their divide and rule strategy that left lingering, deep-seated bitterness and tragic unhealed antagonisms. What exploded and erupted in Rwanda when the gaskets finally blew lasted for 100 days of incomparable, unmentionable madness in that country of mainly two tribes, Hutus and Tutsis. All the pent-up rages long held in check found wanton outlet, and the most unimaginable of barbarous energies were unleashed in a season of destruction that surpassed even the machine-powered heinousness that came about under the Nazis. An electrified world watched and did nothing as murderous arcs of steel completed their rains of terror, and left the torrents of blood, the gruesome record with which Rwanda and the world now lives.
In very muted language, I have struggled to paint the horrors of Rwanda and 800,000 no more on this earth and due to the cruelest of circumstances; and the nightmarish hells that the rest live with, seek to cope with somehow. This is done so as not to alarm anywhere, particularly not here, which is always precariously balanced on a needlepoint. I don’t think I need to offer one more word, not a single syllable has to be said, as to the eeriness and the fearsomeness that now haunt tormented Rwanda, and which hold so many not listened to, therefore unheard of, lessons for our own beautiful, lush Guyana; our now, oil rich Guyana. It was, though, of who was allowed to triumph and hold the upper hand, and who was left to deal with their sorry lot, who got and who did not, and who was left out on the margins or at the bottom. In circumstances like those, then there is usually only one path left. It is one that has been taken from time immemorial by peoples who feel themselves subjugated, or oppressed, or victimized. Sometimes, they are even demonized in the process. One side of the hostile and unreconciled Rwandan tribal equation took matters into their own hands and by their own hands waged a war of destruction on their own and, ultimately, themselves. Many fell.
With this in mind, I respectfully urge, would have hoped that, our President and his team take (or took) timeout in that compellingly beautiful land, and familiarize themselves, some more probably, with the horrors that took place in that blood-soaked place, now left with so many unpeaceful ghosts, so many harsh stories of times that went from intolerably hard to utterly horrific. A study of the simple arm’s length terms on which wanton barbarities were reciprocally executed by segments of the population on each other may bring pausing. If there, and like that, why not here…. Given how vulnerable we are, how easily agitated we can be, then we are but a whisper away from tumbling over the precipice that we know exists, but of which we do not…