France Offers Tepid ‘Apology’ to Rwanda During Kigali Genocide Memorial Speech
France is finally moving closer to recognising its role in the harrowing Rwandan genocide that took place 27 years ago. Speaking at the Kigali Genocide Memorial, France’s youngest head of state President Emmanuel Macron requested the “gift of forgiveness”, but maintained the stance that France was not complicit in the events that led to the death of over 800 000 innocent Rwandan Tutsis. Rwandan President Paul Kagame has reportedly welcomed the request. However, genocide survivor group Ibuka, stated that the “apology” absolved France of taking full responsibility.
Macron reportedly stated that France had, at the time, not considered the political advise regarding the impending 1994 genocide, and instead erroneously decided to stand de facto by Rwanda’s political genocidal regime. The speech by the French President had at least a singular enlightening moment, which was a step away from France’s notorious political arrogance regarding its pre and post colonisation role in Africa. According to Al Jazeera, Macron said France had a duty to admit the “suffering it inflicted on the Rwandan people by too long valuing silence over the examination of the truth”. The statement touches on France’s alleged enabling role in the Hutu-led government genocide, which has been captured in the Netflix series Black Earth Rising.
Egide Nkuranga, the president of Ibuka, expressed his disappointment stating that Macron had not offered a clear apology but had instead retold the events and outlined where France’s responsibilities lay, specifically where France forwent good moral judgement. Nkuranga further expounded that this was a much-needed step to understanding the truthful events of that year.
With France’s upcoming presidential election, Macron’s “apology” has been met with some suspicion that it may be a political campaign to maintain business interests in Rwanda, without losing right wing voters in France. Kagame, a Tsutsi, said Rwandans could “maybe not forget, but forgive” France for its role. The “apology” comes after both countries released independent reports in March on France’s role in the genocide. Rwanda maintains that France was complicit, and played an active role while France has completely absolved itself. Instead, France blames the inheritance of dangerous colonial attitudes towards Black people which “blinded” them on taking humane action during the 100 days of slaughter of close to a million Rwandans.
Macron was speaking at the Kigali Genocide Memorial where over 250 000 genocide victims are buried.