There is a great post over at Claude Adams’ Blog titled The Pitfalls of “Official” History. The post raises some interesting points about the new Rwandan history and curriculum and the challenges and difficulties of re-writing history. Claude Adams writes,
Within the next few weeks or months, new history textbooks will be introduced in Rwanda’s schools. This is a vitally important event for the Central African country. After all, says Deo Byanafashe, the Rwandan professor largely responsible for the reclamation project, “history is where we find our identity.”
This should be cause for celebration. But is it? Will Rwandan schoolchildren be getting an authentic history text that honestly traces the roots of the ethnic violence that tore their society apart? Or will the New History be just another official mythology, a narrative born of political expediency, or political necessity?
The government, controlled by the minority Tutsis (who make up less than 15 per cent of Rwanda’s population), argues that an agreed-upon history is critical to reconciliation. Indeed, the slogan of the new history program is “Education for Reconciliation.” This offers a clue to the question of authenticity: Can history be “used” as a remedy for social disharmony? Aren’t we talking here about “designer history” as a form of therapy?
After a very compelling post, Adams reaches this conclusion regarding the Rwandan Government’s failings :
There [in Rwanda}, the government seems to be deliberately misrepresenting important events in its recent history, in an apparent effort to consolidate power, and to put a new, and unreal, face on Rwandan society. In so doing, it glosses over the terrible emotional complexity and confusion one still finds among survivors of the genocide. It ignores the fact that many Tutsis and Hutus still view one another with dread and suspicion–feelings that will not be expunged with a new, selective history.
Anyone who can should read it.
Personally, I think it’s a no brainer that Rwanda will continue to spread propaganda throughout the world and to children. I don’t doubt that this has the potential to cause harm in the long run, especially with this forced suppression of ethnic identities and such. I figure it’s going to manifest itself in other ways, which might be more harmful than letting people simply be who they are.
One major problem with what’s happened in Rwanda is that one whole group of people has been demonized that it’s almost beyond people to comprehend that there exists people within that group that aren’t actually evil nor killers, nor did they have anything to do with what happened. And also, that these people aren’t actually the exception, and no they are not “moderate” as Kagame would like us to believe. So this idea of trying to curb “genocide ideology” by suppressing people’s identities is exactly as Adams put it, it’s a means to consolidate power and remain in control. I really have a difficult time believing that Rwanda is acting with altruistic intentions when promoting the erasure of group identities.
So what do you think? How do you think propaganda will affect the children’s identities? Do you think it will be harmful or not? Will this be like how in America they don’t teach Black history in schools but Black people have to dig deep to actually find it? Is there anything that can be done at this point?