By David Himbara
The Spanish-American philosopher George Santayana famously stated that “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” We are currently witnessing this tragedy in Rwanda. President Paul Kagame is now at the top of his game of consolidating his life presidency – from a guerrilla fighter, general, vice presidency, and president.
Kagame has forgotten the past. And he is condemned to repeat it.
So what is the past?
The last peaceful transfer of power in Rwanda was in 1889, when King Rwabugiri proclaimed Rutarindwa co-ruler, thereby designating Rutarindwa the successor. On Rwabugiri’s death in 1895, Rutarindwa was proclaimed king. But with the death of Rwabugiri, the queen mother Kanjogera and her brothers plotted to put her own young son Musinga on the throne. This culminated in the 1896 Rucunshu Coup that destroyed Rutarindwa and his court.
From then onwards, it is a series of history repeating it itself, with each power incumbent dying in office.
* Musinga/Kanjogera regime overthrown by the Belgians;
* Rudahigwa died mysteriously under Belgians;
* Ndahindurwa overthrew under Belgians.
* Kayibanda overthrown by Habyarimana Coup.
* Habyarimana shot from the sky.
Kagame proclaims that he is different. In power now for 23 years, and assured of ruling until 2034 by the constitution he engineered, he believes he is invincible. That is what Habyarimana called himself – Kinani, or invincible.
Remember Santayana’s words? Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. This is a phrase Kagame wouldn’t want to hear – because he is the new Kinani.