KAGAME TO MACRON : The truth heals

KAGAME TO MACRON : The truth heals

There are probably as many opinions in Rwanda and abroad about French President Macron’s visit to Kigali as there are Rwandans. It matters not.

President Macron at a press conference in Kigali

President Macron is the first French president to ever speak from the Kigali Genocide Memorial. And that is significant for a number of reasons. To have expected him to apologize in specific terms is not realistic for a Head of State. But, at the same time he did not shack from his responsibility like his predecessors did.

History sometimes seems to be static. President Obama never apologized for the US having dropped the hydrogen bomb when he visited Japan, a heinous crime that changed the character of Japan, forever.

Macron said he recognized his country’s role in the Rwandan genocide (the genocide against Tutsi) and hoped for forgiveness.

He said, “I hereby humbly and with respect stand by your side today, I come to recognize the extent of our responsibilities.”

” Only those who went through that night can perhaps forgive, and in doing so give the gift of forgiveness.” Right on the money.

I am not splitting hairs, but this is not acknowledging complicity. History will judge him, and his conscience. For what it’s worth, Macron was 17 years old in 1994.

President Kagame holds a tête-à-tête with French President Macron

In President Kagame’s words, and to the point, Macron brings “freshness to politics.”

The French report released last March said colonial attitude had blinded French officials , who were close to the Hutu-leg government of the time. The report went on to blame France for not foreseeing the slaughter and said the government bore a “serious and overwhelming” responsibility. This is hogwash if you ask me. There is overwhelming evidence that France supplied arms, trained FAR and in the end provided safe exit for the killers. There is no better example of complicity. Don’t talk to me about being “blinded.”

Macron is dead wrong when he says that “ the killers who stalked the swamps, the hills, the churches, did not have the face of France.” May be not, but they sure as hell performed under French military advisors, carried arms supplied by France, and many of them today enjoy French protection in France.

President Macron’s words seemed genuine and heartfelt and demanded courage because the base at home in all likelihood will disagree, for racist reasons and many others I care not to discuss now.

President Kagame hit the nail on the head when he said, “Today is a moment to speak to the present and to the future, while reflecting on the past that brought us here.”

He went on to say, “ His words (Macron) were something more valuable than an apology: they were the truth. Politically and morally, this was an act of tremendous courage.”

Indeed, the truth heals.

In vintage Kagame style of never mincing words, he went on to say; “No grain of truth has been sacrificed. But the weight of responsibility has been put back where it belongs: with those who made the decisions. Whether or not there are trials, justice is also rendered by the court of history. And the work of historical documentation must continue, jointly.”

No matter the degree of magnanimity on President Macron’s part that forced him to visit to Kigali, all this will pale if France does not do the right thing: apprehend the scores of genocidaires now living in France as free citizens and make sure justice is done. For justice delayed, is justice denied — 27 years, later.