Liberia’s Vice President Deposits Flowers At Rwanda Genocide Museum

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Monrovia – Between April and June 1994, a scuffle between members of Hutus tribe and Tutsis in Rwanda saw an estimated 800,000 Rwandans killed in the space of 100 days. This number is a little over three times the estimated number of persons that died during the civil crisis. The carnage is indicative of what would usually accompany bitter ethnic conflict among people of the same country.

Historical data show that most of the dead were Tutsis – and most of those who perpetrated the violence were Hutus.

Coming from a country that shares in the scar of war, Liberia’s Vice President Chief Dr. Jewel Cianeh Howard-Taylor visited the Rwandan Genocide Museum to pay homage to those who lost their lives during the sad violent incident. She also deposited a bouquet flower in memory of her fellow Africans who were massacred.

VP Howard-Taylor made the visit over the weekend of April 29, 2018 when she travelled to the East African nation to attend the Women Political Leaders Global Forum and the Mo Ibrahim Governance weekend in Kigali, Rwanda.

According to Vice President Howard-Taylor, her visit to the graves of deceased is a beginning of an initiative that would see the creation of a war museum in Liberia as a way of instituting inclusive reconciliation and bid farewell to war.

She noted that the proposed museum will seek to tell the story of the war that wrecked havoc on the West African nation and destroyed lives and properties in order to engender lasting reconciliation.

The genocide was sparked by the death of the then Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana, a Hutu, when his plane was shot down above Kigali airport on 6 April 1994.

Ethnic tension in Rwanda which was the primary cause of the bloodbath is nothing new. There have always been disagreements between the majority Hutus and minority Tutsis, but the animosity between them has grown substantially since the colonial period.

The two ethnic groups are actually very similar – they speak the same language, inhabit the same areas and follow the same traditions.

However, Tutsis are often taller and thinner than Hutus, with some saying their origins lie in Ethiopia.

During the genocide, the bodies of Tutsis were thrown into rivers, with their killers saying they were being sent back to Ethiopia.

For instance, in December of 1990, four years before the genocide, the Hutus published what is today known as “The Hutu Ten Commandments” warning its citizens of doing business with the Tutsis who were branded “dishonest in business”.

The commandments mandated that Hutus should “prevail throughout the educational system (pupils, scholars, teachers)- a class system that also exist in Liberia from time immemorial. And it was decreed that the Rwandan Army must be exclusively Hutu. “The war of October 1990 has taught us that. No soldier may marry a Tutsi woman,” the Hutus stated.

Like Rwanda, the class system is also pervasive in Liberia with wide gap between the haves and the have not. Opportunities are available to the privileged few most of whom are the so-called “Americo-Liberians”.

VP Howard-Taylor believes that when the museum is built and the real story of the war in Liberia is told, Liberians will be able to write the wrong and pursue a path of reconciliation by avoiding those things that brought the country to its knees.

She is of the conviction that one of the surest ways to end division is for every Liberian to have stake in the development efforts of the country as well as benefit from the natural resources of their land regardless of anyone’s social status, connections to the power that be, political affiliation religious belief, etc.

Working with President George Manneh Weah under the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) led government, the West African nation’ first female Vice President averred that the new government is sparing no effort in ensuring that line of the pro-poor agenda is implemented as an attempt to solidify national reconciliation. According to her, until every citizen feels that he or she has a stake to protect in the national cake, Liberia is still not going to move forward.

Veep Howard-Taylor disclosed that she would lead the effort in the creation of the war museum in Liberia.

Chief Dr. Howard-Taylor believes that it is important for the younger generation of Liberians to know the circumstances that led to the war so that they, too, can do away with those vices and propel Liberia on a steady course of peace and development.

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