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Patrice G Shema
Born 1974 in Uganda, Patrice is an artist who spent most of his life in Rwanda. He is a British citizen now living in the UK and holds a BA (Hons) in Graphic design, is a founder member of the National Rwandan artists federation and chairman of the Rwandese Community Association in London. Patrice has experienced life as a refugee and was a production manager for ‘100 DAYS’, a feature film that includes real footage of the Rwanda atrocities of 1994.
THE THREE HEADS
The Twas, the Tutsis and the Hutus were once one. They should never have been separated. The memories will always reverberate in our minds. This is the reason that Rwandans must reconcile and work together: because no one will make it up for us.
(Kinyarwanda language meaning “grass”) is a local judicial system well known in Rwandese culture as a way of resolving differences – on grass in front of a panel of judges. Gacaca has turned out to be a successful alternative to the pathetically slow United Nations criminal justice court in Arusha, Tanzania. This has become a money minting organization that exists to keep people in fat jobs and create a comfort zone for senior contributors to 1994’s Rwanda’s genocidaires.
“ I wish to inform you that even mothers killed…” I have always wondered how on earth a mother would dare choose to kill her own children just because their father was a Tutsi.
I am a refugee. The term ‘refugee’ was like a brand. We hated it and we could not rub it off our foreheads. In exile for three decades we were regarded as Akanyarwanda (a racist label used towards refugees from Rwanda). It was time to get back our identity and seek the right to belong – either by negotiations or by force.
Tools and institutions that were regarded as essential productive necessities to build the nation were all used for the wrong reasons: the radio, the machete, church, and the Vernier caliper.
Tutsis were killed by Hutu militias and thrown in the river Nyabarongo, with the symbolic intention of seeing the Tutsis swept back to historic Abyssinia (now Ethiopia) located in the Horn of Africa.
THE CRUMBLING LOVE
The spirit of love on top of the country best known as the land of a thousand hills. It was shocking to see it falling apart in one night in a blink of an eye where it all happened in the sky and ended on the ground in pieces and ashes.
COURT OF ARMS
A barbaric two eyed and two faced interim cabinet was entrusted with leading Rwandans out of crisis, instead they continued the atrocities by the blade of a machete. The Vernier caliper was used in the past by the Belgians to measure noses and create divisions between Tutsis and Hutus triggering deep hatred and segregation. In the 1994 genocide, the identity card bearing ethnic description was used by the French Tourqois troops in Kibuye to identify Tutsis fleeing for safe haven. The Tutsis were stopped by the French troops who eventually handed them over to the Hutu militias for persecution, and they were killed instantly.
At the time when help was needed, there was no one but Rwandans to offer it. The World covered its ears and ignored 100 days of atrocities. As a last resort, the victims turned to God, seeking sanctuary in the churches – only to be butchered like animals. This happened in 1959 and again in 1994. Surprisingly the Catholic Church played a major role on the carnage and patiently they waited for the trap to work.
The conflict that erupted between Tutsis and Hutus was a sign of backwardness: an outburst that none predicted and from which no-one gained.
The split of the iconic Rwandan peace basket that stands as a symbol was shattered with no respect and the UN stood by and watched while persecu¬tion took hold. A fax requesting further troops was sent to UN headquarters by General Romeo Dallaire, the then commander of the UN peacekeeping forces in Rwanda. His request was disregarded by the UN Security Council and hope was turned into a myth.
My Father was denied a vacancy as a student in the University of Butare after qualifying with flying colours in all subjects required by then. Instead he joined General Che Guevara in the Congo in 1964, seeking help in creating a coalition to fight the oppressive system in Rwanda. Unfortunately the mission failed – and the oppression on Tutsis in the education sector increased, with opportunities in education minimal or non-existent.