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“Speak no ill of the dead” the convenient myth

We do not inherit the earth from our parents; we borrow it from our children’ – Indian Proverb

On 5th January 1931, Rwandan King Yuhi V – Musinga wrote a sad letter to his daughter Musheshembugu. He had learned that she was about to be baptised.

‘I learned that your husband wants you to be baptised. I want to tell you that what you are about to do is an abomination. You shall not prosper. You will be cursed by King of the earth Musinga himself and King of above, the Thunder… I tell you in the name of Rwabugili my father, if you become Christian, you and I will never meet again. Feel free to speak ill of me to the priests all you want. I don’t mind…’

His daughter didn’t listen to him and got baptised alongside her husband Rwagataraka, a traitor. Soon after, King Musinga was deposed and exiled to Kamembe in western Rwanda, then to Moba in Eastern Congo where he rested.

His eldest son, King Mutara III Rudahigwa, succeeded him, but he was assassinated by the very people who had baptised his sister and replaced by a personal assistant to Catholic bishop Perraudin, Gregoire Kayibanda.

The PA, his associates and the Catholic Church would later prepare and execute the Genocide against the Tutsi. – Source Urujeni Rosine, #365OfKinya

In the last few days, two famous commoners and a queen passed away. While the Queen (of Soul) will reign forever unchallenged; the two men’s demise sparked controversy on their place in history.

The two men are Koffi Annan and John McCain. Everyone knows the Queen and I choose, out of R.E.S.P.E.C.T., to refrain from mentioning her name in the same sentence as these men.

I am not about to reopen the debate on the two men’s deeds, I just want to negate the so-called ‘African culture’ of ‘not speaking ill of the dead’, with which commentators bullied us, unsuccessfully when we pointed out to the suffering that these celebrated men have brought to mankind.

I believe there is no such culture; at least not anymore. In 2018, we are no longer that superstitious. While no human is perfect, everyone must be held accountable; dead or alive.

What’s in fact pervasive of African leaders is to think that if they hang on to power until their death, all will somehow be forgiven and forgotten because they are now dead.

This is why we have politicians, proudly bearing names of their ruthless parents, enjoying stolen riches, fame and abundance, while orphans of their parents’ victims live lowly in anonymous poverty, with no chance at moral or material reparation.

This is the same attitude as that of egotistic politicians who deny the existence of global warming. It is not that they aren’t aware of its existence; they just know that they will be long gone before any major consequences occur, and no one will remember their hand in it.

The same attitude animates descendants of slave-masters and colonisers, who now feel qualified to advise us on our new relationship with the Chinese, a nation and a people which has done us no harm in history, ever.

I am here to say we may have forgiven, but we have not forgotten. History will hold them accountable for their deeds today, and their names will forever be associated with a dark era, originator of natural calamities, and human tragedy.

Also, I know that a crime is personal, but the Bible says that some sins must be visited upon third, at times fourth generations. I am entirely for the banning of children of bad people from running in politics; for seizing all their inherited wealth and distributing it to the poor.

I want African leaders to know that their deeds will be visited upon themselves, their offspring, relatives and friends; I want children, relatives and surviving associates to confront their ageing fathers and brother-in-arms while still alive and compel them not destroy their legacies, lest it be visited upon them.

I am privileged to have this column. I will always have one; here or elsewhere. And with it I will lend my voice to the downtrodden, the silent, the broken and the unmitigated. Those who carry the weight of forgiveness and reconciliation; not its rewards.

I will remind these leaders of ours, who start off as good men, then grow drunk of their own power; that they are in power not because we love them; we don’t! Those who praise them are only trying to extort them – as they do us. They are in power because they are violent, and so will their end be.

I will remind those Africans who go on to receive accolades, praises and prizes from our oppressors, dress lavishly and speak ostentatiously, that we are not impressed. They may be praised by those whom they served to our detriment, but in our midst, they will always be regarded as lost children.

I will remind their offspring, relatives and associates that they will never be legitimate in our eyes; that while they feel all powerful and famous, their image whitewashed, we know where they come from; we know that they never earned any of that power, nor do they deserve it; in our eyes they will always be imposters, usurpers, and they will never change history.

May he who has ears, hear…

I will leave you with this passage from the Wrecked of Earth: ‘Europeans undertook to manufacture a native elite. They picked out promising adolescents; they branded them, as with a red-hot iron, with the principles of Western culture; they stuffed their mouths full with high-sounding phrases, grand glutinous words that stuck to the teeth. After a short stay in the mother country they were sent home, whitewashed, walking lies with nothing left to say to their brothers; they only echoed. From Paris, London, Amsterdam… – Jean Paul Sartre, Preface of ‘The Wrecked of Earth’ by Frantz Fanon.

By Gatete Nyiringabo Ruhumuliza

The Express News

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