Rwandan scholars 'conspired'

February 28, 1997

THE RWANDAN massacres of 1994 were far from simple explosions of tribal hatred. The intellectual basis for mass murder was laid by university scholars trained in the United States and Britain, it is now alleged.

Historians at the Rwandan National University at Butare manufactured doctrines of Hutu ethnic supremacy depicting Tutsis as a malignant cancer in a Hutu version of Nazi "science", argues Michael Chege, a Kenyan and director of African studies at the University of Florida.

Their views were fed to the mass public via newspapers, radio and television, even as overseas aid flowed into institutions like Butare. "The catechism of the madness that overtook Rwanda was authored not by some African magician extolling the supremacy of the Hutu race, but by accomplished Rwandan professional historians, journalists, and sociologists," he wrote in the American journal The National Interest.

Mr Chebe, an associate professor of political science at Florida, traces a similar development in Kenya, where he accuses leading Ivy League and Oxbridge-educated law and history dons by name of fuelling racist attacks on the Kikuyu minority for their "greed" and "love of money".

Non-Africans must stop making excuses and hold African scholars to the objective professional standards of performance and responsibility, he urged. "As the Rwandan genocide tragically demonstrated, tolerating such activities within universities can conceal and abet new African disasters waiting to happen."

An estimated 850,000 Tutsis, were killed in weeks by the majority Hutus. Mr Chebe quoted Emmanual Bugingo, rector at Butare after the massacres, as saying that "all the killing in Rwanda was carefully planned by intellectuals and those intellectuals passed through this university".

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