Once upon a time, there was a vote tabled in the Security Council of the United Nations on whether what was happening in Rwanda was a Genocide or not. Many nations cited ‘flowed process’ to oppose the resolution, while others urged for more ‘negotiations, analysis, information, dialogue’ and other such meaningless terms, to defer a critical decision that would have saved lives of innocent Tutsis that were being slaughtered.
New Zealand, a not so powerful country, was the voice of reason and stood up against mighty France then, and kept pushing the agenda until the genocide of Tutsis was finally recognized by a UN resolution. Today, as the resolution to recognize the State of Palestine was being tabled, New-Zealand deserved to be in the Security Council in the place of both Rwanda and Nigeria.
Rwanda and Nigeria, two former western colonies, abstained from recognizing the State of Palestine; A people still colonized by Israel in 2015.
It is heartbreaking. That the two African non-permanent members in the Security Council, decided to abstain, instead of recognizing a people’s right to self-determination: the Palestinian People.
What is hypocritical however, is their explanation: ‘we abstained because the decision was not negotiated; agreed upon by both parties; there was a flow in the process; it would escalate the conflict, etc.’
In what world does the oppressor’s view count, when it comes to the freedom of the oppressed? After the recent mass murders in Gaza, how bad can it get? ‘Injustice occurs, when just people fail to act’.
I imagined 20 years ago, the discussions being held at the UN on the recognition of the Genocide of Tutsis, and New-Zealand saying: ‘Ah, failed process…’ We are all waiting for the day an African country will be a permanent member of the UN Security Council; Now that Gaddafi is dead, I am afraid Nigeria and Rwanda would be just two role filling Oxymoron…
Lets start with Rwanda: the apostle of Africa’s dignity (Agaciro), anti-colonialism, self-worth, etc. All, grand ideals conveniently used when it fits us; when it is addressed towards France? Where is the dignity in looking away when a call to support our fellow comrades is launched? Is this the example we set for our children? Double standards; #SelectiveAgaciro? We weren’t even asked to oppose Israel; we were asked to recognize the Right of a people to be worth something; we abstained…
Now Nigeria! A country of more than 170 million people; half of whom are Muslims, and leading Africa’s economy; they also abstained. But I was not as surprised with Nigeria’s vote as I was with Rwanda’s. Let me explain: Two points in Nigerian history would enlighten you on their abstention: The Biafran war would tell you that they do not believed in peoples’ self-determination; Their opposition to Nkrumah’s project of one African Union however, (On the simple reason that he, a Ghanaian, wanted to be the first African President), would confirm that; except in numbers, Nigeria never really led Africa; in ideas…
Abstention is even worse than voting against; it means that one fears to do the right thing. But we were not cowards; we were prudent; there is a thin line between the two…
When I saw the vote, I twitted: ‘Disappointed and surprised by Rwanda’s abstention on the vote on the Draft Resolution S/2014/916 on the State of Palestine. This abstention, which Rwanda justifies by ‘failure in process’, is inconsistent with our stand on self-determination and human dignity. Rwanda should always side with the weak and oppressed, even and especially when that is a painful decision to make. Palestinians need #Agaciro too. Process, procedure, politics, etc; are all just words to justify systemic oppression; Rwanda is never at its worst, as when it goes against its own principles…’
I was quickly rebuffed by our deputy UN representative: @onduhungirehe “This is just good rhetoric. (He said): ‘Standing with the weak’ is supporting a negotiated deal not a unilateral move.” ; ‘Guys, you misunderstood Rwanda’s position! It was not for or against any party!’
Then the Minister of Foreign Affairs replayed: ‘#Rwanda is consistent w.its ideology we know what having a country means, we also think it shd be done right, if it’s to last!’
But one @Coolerme summed it up in 2 tweets: ‘those matters are beyond Rw and I don’t c Rwanda turning away from her most allies’; ‘we had no choice! RWANDA was in a high top players and that was it!’
Now, I do not live in wonderland; We are but a small, powerless country at the mercy of world super powers. That abstention was more for self-preservation than anything. Having said that, we then shouldn’t have been in the Security Council in the first place; because we weren’t free to vote with our heart, but with our mind.
But who are we? The people born and/or raised in exile; children of the struggle for survival, for self-determination; freedom fighters – well at least that is how I like to view us. Guess what, I am wrong: we are nothing of the sort. That was then; Now, we are like everyone else; politicians, diplomats, heartless, calculating, indifferent to the suffering of other peoples, so long as our people are preserved. Is that bad? Not at all, sadly; It is just not Romanesque.
The history of that region is complex, but so are the histories of all other regions. Had Rwanda voted in favor, the US would have probably vetoed the resolution and killed it. So still, the Palestinian people were not out of trouble as yet.
Which brings me to why I wrote this post. Indeed if I agree with Rwanda’s decision, why complain? Well, I wrote this to check that our values are still in the right place; That we voted how we did, because we had no choice; not because we do not care. New Zealand could afford to vote against France because its survival did not depend on it; ours did. But this situation of weakness is not permanent; One day Rwanda will be a free country; one that does not need aid and is not worried about negative forces looming at its boarder; I want to know, if then, we will vote for what we aspire for, not what we fear.
I would also like to apologize to Palestinians on Rwanda’s behalf – No politician will anyway: We do not hate you, we just fear for ourselves. Do not ask us, a people as weak as you to help; Ask God, the almighty, to solve your problem; only He can.
Posted 3rd January