“Hotel Rwanda” attempts to play down the responsibility of the Belgians and other imperialists in the genocide in Rwanda.
By Fatimah Shittu
Recently, it seems like every time I’m around two or more Africans, somebody’s talking about this new movie “Hotel Rwanda.” The movie, about the 1994 Rwandan genocide, is being advertised by the imperialist media as a “revealing” look into a “modern genocide” and one of the “bloodiest chapters in recent African history.”
Everywhere you turn, you’ll find critics applauding the “honesty and accuracy” in how the story was told. But what you won’t hear is how the tragedy in Rwanda serves as a clear example of the effects of colonialism being imposed on Africa by Western imperialism.
My beef with the movie is that all of 15 seconds were spent glossing over the fact that the Germans, and later the Belgians, created the so-called “tribal animosity” between the Hutu and Tutsi people of Rwanda. Furthermore, no time was spent making it clear that the people of Rwanda were deliberately divided against each other in order to deepen their colonial domination by the Belgians. Not to mention the fact that the whole movie was told from the perspective of a petty bourgeois African who was “rescued” by his colonial master.
It must be clear that none of these omissions were by accident. While behind-the-scenes directors and producers front like they’re doing a social service by exposing the “truth”, the movie serves as another tool to crush the consciousness of African people by blaming them for horizontal violence.
Had the real story been told, it sure as hell wouldn’t have received an Academy Award. It probably wouldn’t have even made it to the box office.
Rather than detailing how white power created the colonial contradictions in Rwanda, the movie displayed the United Nations as the beneficent savior that came in on its white horse to rescue the vicious, barbaric Africans from themselves.
Instead of telling the true horror story of what white power has done and continues to do to Africa, we get two hours of Africans killing other Africans so that the audience can shake their heads in bewilderment at the “evil ways” of Africans. Between the lines of the script, viewers are subliminally told, “See, your enemy ain’t white power. Africans kill each other.”
Fundamental problem for Africans is white power
And by no means does this understate the catastrophe of Africans being brutally murdered or the cruelty of those who carried out the killings. But what must be highlighted is the root of the problem, which is the root of most problems that we as African people face around the globe even today. Our underlying problem is imperialism and its continued genocide, looting and rape of Africa and her people.
The problem is not that black folks can’t get along or rule ourselves, or that we lack morals, or any of the subliminal messages the creators of “Hotel Rwanda” would have us believe. The problem is that Africa is, and has been for centuries, the lifeline of Europe and the U.S.
They stole and divided up our land amongst themselves, committed the greatest genocide the world has ever known through the slave trade, robbed Africa of its greatest resource through the theft of human bodies and then saw to the continued theft of all our oil, diamonds, gold, coltan, and other natural resources through colonialism, and now neo-colonialism.
Even today there’s a parasitic relationship between Africa and European and U.S. imperialism that is steadily sucking resources out of our Africa to nourish and sustain the West. White nationalists even have the audacity to say that Africans live off white welfare in imperialist countries while in fact, the whole of the U.S. and Europe are living off the welfare of Africans.
“Rather than detailing how white power created the colonial contradictions in Rwanda, the movie displayed the United Nations as the beneficent saviors that came in on its white horse to rescue the vicious, barbaric Africans from themselves.”
But there is an ideology that justifies this parasitic grip that Europe and the U.S. have on Africa. Europeans shove this crap down our throats and call it our history.
When they took Rwanda as a colony, the Belgians actually wrote school text books that spread the lie that the Hutu and the Tutsi were lifelong enemies and that one group had always been better than the other. So you read it in the book, you look around and see that all the Tutsis are privileged — by the white colonial State, of course — while Hutus are kept poor and starving.
Soon enough you will believe the lie that you’ve always hated a fellow African because of some bullshit tribal difference. Instead of focusing on the true enemy that’s holding your land hostage and colonizing all your people, you start looking at your fellow African as the cause of your problems.
The same mess happens with Africans in America in every hood in the U.S. from Bed-Stuy, New York to Third Ward, Houston where we’re killing each other over these little scraps of resources in our communities. The government takes all the jobs from our neighborhoods, imposes an illegitimate drug economy, which serves as both chemical warfare against our people and also as a means to criminalize all Africans in the country. Then they sit back and watch us kill each other over the crumbs.
So yes, the movie tells a compelling story. And certainly we should all mourn the fact that a million plus of our people died at the hands of other Africans. But if we are going to be sad or angry about the movie, let us be angry that the same system that brought one group of Africans to the misguided conclusion that killing another group was the only way to survive, still keeps us scraping, struggling, and dying wherever we find ourselves throughout the world.
Be angry that the same monster keeps millions of African men locked up in the prison system in the United States. Be mad that African children go to schools where armed police serve as hall monitors and textbooks teach them lies about their history. And when you’re done being angry and sad for the day, organize to change it.
Every time this movie comes up, the conversation ends with, “What can we do? How can we keep something crazy like this from happening again? How do we prevent our people from suffering like this?”
The answer is simple — we get organized, and the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM) is the way to do it. Join InPDUM and start making change happen in your own neighborhood.
InPDUM is a grassroots organization, led by the African working class and is open to anyone who wants to join this fight for self-determination for African people. A self-determining people wouldn’t have to beg for freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom to live without the constant threat of police violence, the right to access to adequate food, shelter and clothing, and all the basic rights that are denied us on a daily basis.
We can talk about what’s wrong all day or we can start fighting to change it. Only when we are a self-determined people with control over all aspects of our black lives, will we be able to prevent calamities like Rwanda from happening. Only then can we be free. Join InPDUM today!