This may be random, but here are some things that struck me after a day of Genocide Tourism:

The current government really hates the French. The French were allied with the pre-genocide ruling Hutu party and aided the escape of the Interahamwe into Congo. The French have brought formal accusations against the Rwandan president that he ordered the rocket into the plane carrying the Rwandan and Burundi presidents which ignited the genocide (which he likely did). As a result, Rwandan kids now learn English in school instead of French and country is the committed to become English speaking. Neighbouring English speaking Uganda and Kenya, it’s probably the right move in any event for Rwanda.

The Genocide Memorial seemed surprisingly very critical of the Catholic church, claiming they promoted the concept of a superior (Hutu) race. That is totally inconsistent with any Catholic teaching I’ve ever heard, but I wonder if the French / Catholic association has something to do with it. I had always heard that the church tried to shelter victims, not encourage a genocide.

Romeo Dallaire is regarded as a Canadian hero in Canada, but there is no sense of that here. He is acknowledged as being in charge of the UN peacekeeping mission and having asked for more help from New York, but that’s about it. By association, he was the guy who failed to stop the genocide, while giving little acknowledgement of how desparately he tried to secure help. The Memorial was very critical of the UN and world leaders at the time, but did not cut Dallaire a break for trying to influence them. I think it is fair to say that Dallarie is little known as is his side of the story. I can see why he wanted to write Shake Hands With the Devil so his perspective can be documented.

The Genocide Memorial was very explicit: virtually nothing was done to deal with the impact of post traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) after one of the most traumatic events in human history. In Congo, the same can be said. That is why we believe in the efforts of Healing Streams which has been providing training to people on the ground in Congo to deal with people impacted by PTSD.

The Tutsi were a minority to start with but after 1,000,000 mainly Tutsi were slaughtered they obviously became an even smaller minority. It is easy to understand how the Tutsi general, Paul Kagame, became the leader of Rwanda after militarily defeating the Hutu’s in 1994. But coming from a minority, how can he be democratically elected by huge margins now? As a Canadian, I’ll suggest that he has provided peace, order and good government. Rwanda has been ruled by something close to a Kagame benevolent dictatorship for years, like Singapore, and it has worked. They are an economic miracle and crime is extremely low. He was the person who stopped the genocide. Why would people want to change what is working?

Kagame won the presidency with 78% of the vote and his party won seats with 98.7% of the vote. 98.7%! The reason is that he formed a coalition of parties which included Socialists, Muslims, you name it. If you want to share in government, come join me! If you want to eat my dust, then don’t join me!

This helps to complete the continuum of possible democratic political configurations: In Rwanda, all policy arguments are now conducted solely within the government. The extent of democracy can be debated as it depends on how the leader uses his power but the risk of a dictatorship is obvious. In the U.S. two party system, policy consensus is saught within each party with each party internally having a very wide range of policy opinions. A uniform party post-compromising is brought to the electorate. In Canada and other multi party systems, policy arguments are conducted within each party with opinions and divisions internally being far narrower in scope compared to U.S. parties. Each party tries to present a uniform party policy and consensus to the electorate, but on occasion minority governments force consensus to cross over to another party. (The U.S. system of checks and balances forces more co-operation than would otherwise be the case in a two party system.) In Canada, electoral success dictates the extent of cross party co-operation. Proportionatal representation systems force parties to be internally very focused and compels parties to work together to have any chance of a functional government. This is done at the cost of losing local accountability.

In structuring a political system, it’s not a matter of having political debate on issues, it’s where you have the debate.