July 08, 2020
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Hutu-Tutsi Bhai Bhai

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Hutu-Tutsi Bhai Bhai
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I expected to feel a bit queasy about being in a country where nearly everyone over the age of 35 had either killed or narrowly escaped being killed. I wondered whether I’d recoil at shaking people’s hands, not knowing which category they belonged to. For a hundred days in 1994, the Hutu government of Rwanda orchestrated one of the most comprehensive genocides ever perpetrated. It handed out machetes and called on every Hutu to do his duty as a citizen. The minority Tutsis, about 15 per cent of the population, were wiped out or fled. The international community twiddled its thumbs. It was left to an invading army of Tutsi refugees from Uganda, led by Paul Kagame, to restore order. Since then, contrary to all expectations, Kagame’s government of national reconciliation has gone about rebuilding the country. I was interested in visiting Rwanda because, instead of brushing its genocidal past under the carpet, it is dealing with it proactively.

As our plane approached Kigali, my Rwandan neighbour explained that Rwanda wants to become the Singapore of Africa. Assuming I was a fellow businessman, he rattled off a number of sectors I could invest in. "We have no corruption," he said, "and we welcome everyone". He was a Tutsi returnee, who had grown up abroad, like many others in business and government. "Everyone is Rwandan now, we don’t distinguish between Hutus and Tutsis."

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