Connect with us

News Africa

Shock clan coronation rattles Kagame’s party



After the event on July 9, senior party officials who attended the ceremony were temporally detained and questioned after pictures and videos of them dancing at the venue were circulated.

The Abakono Clan meeting, in which Rwandan business magnate Justin Kazoza was crowned clan chief and fundraised for activities, was swiftly denounced by the party as an event aimed at dividing the nation.

While party chairman President Kagame did not comment on the event, the ruling party cautioned its members against engaging in sectarianism.

The meeting, harmless at face value, has put the RPF on the spot for a party that has prided itself on national unity, having abolished all discrimination based on ethnic and cultural identity and promoting Ndu’munyarwanda.

In a statement on July 18, RPF condemned the gathering as an “interference in the unity of Rwandans.”

“The leadership of RPF reminds all members that strengthening the unity of Rwandans is everyone’s responsibility. Although some steps have been taken, some things need to be corrected because they can harm this unity,” a party statement said.

“A recent example is the event called ‘Ordaining Chief of Abakono Clan.’ Such an event is not exemplary in strengthening unity and co-operation. The RPF asks every member to disassociate themselves from, and condemn anything that may hinder the progress we have made.”

Now, dozens of those who attended, especially the senior carders of RPF, risk the wrath of the party, which has on several occasions punished members who fail to toe the line.

On the spot are Senate Vice-President Esperance Nyirasafari and former Local Government minister Vianney Gatabazi, and the ordained clan chief, Kazoza.

Others who were briefly detained and questioned are the owner of the hotel where the meeting took place in Musanze District, as well as army officers charged with security in the district.

Mr Gatabazi has been sacked from various government positions previously and in each case, he has taken to Twitter to ask for the president’s forgiveness. This time, he did it again.

“Dear President Paul Kagame, the mercy you have given us will be accepted and we will fully oppose anything that wants to destroy Rwandan unity because it is our strength,” he said.

“Thank you, our President Paul Kagame, for the advice, guidance and support by reminding us of the line we have chosen as Rwandans to build a country based on national identity which is the bond that connects us all.”

Analysts say although many Rwandans still revere their clans, attempting to use them for political purposes, as they used to be in the past, is not an idea that the ruling party will tolerate.

Public opinion remains divided on the matter, with some Rwandans arguing that identification by clan could be misused to create divisions.

“I don’t think that looking at oneself through the lense of clan is wrong. What is wrong is organising a particular clan into a political structure to serve a political purpose and to mobilise for a political purpose,” said Sadate Munyakazi, a political commentator, on local television station, TV10.

“This is what was happening with the meeting of the Abakono Clan. We have a centralised government that has drastically reduced the role of the clan in the community. So, what were they trying to do by picking a clan head except for it to serve as a political platform?”

In his doctorate thesis in 1997, educationist Antoine Nyagahene explained that 20 clans existed in precolonial Rwanda to provide for their members.

“It has always been difficult to comprehend how the Hutu, Tutsi and Batwa, which compose the Rwandan population, are looked upon as different ethnic groups while they all belong to the same patrilinear clans and occupy the same territory,” he said.

The Kagame government has actively worked to avoid all forms of discrimination and promoted unity under the Ndi’Umunyarwanda, which means “I am Rwandan,” initiated to build a national identity based on trust and dignity.

The government has promoted it to strengthen unity and reconciliation by providing a forum for people to talk about genocide and what it means to be Rwandan.

But the programme came under scrutiny in 2013 when there were calls for Hutus to apologise to Tutsis for the genocide in the name of the entire ethnic group. The government maintains it as a tool for unity and reconciliation.

Laws are in place to stamp out any discrimination based on identity or religion. Just in April, more than 200 people were arrested for genocide ideology.
Such policies have made any public talk of ethnicity almost non-existent.



Verified by MonsterInsights