In 1959 rioting broke out and the Hutus killed
more than 20,000 Tutsis and many of them fled to neighboring
countries. When the Belgians gave up power in 1962, the Hutus
sought to establish their own power base in Rwandan society.
The Tutsis became the scapegoats for every confrontation. Hutus
and Tutsis look very much alike, speak the same language, live
in the same areas, and follow the same traditions. Over the
years many intermarried and were living as neighbors.
In the early 90’s, Rwanda’s economy declined and
its President, Juvenal Habyarimana a Hutu, was losing popularity.
Tutsi refugees formed the RPF (Rwandan Patriotic Front) with
the goal of overthrowing the president and putting a Tutsi in
power so they could return to their homeland.
In April 1994, Habyarimana was killed in a mysterious plane
crash. The Hutus blamed the Tutsis. They used their control
of the government
to begin ethnic cleansing of the Tutsis population. The killing
went on for 100 days; any Tutsis found were murdered, as well
as any Hutu who did not support the killings.
To stop the killing, the United Nations negiotated a peace
treaty, but Hutu extremists ignored it. The outside world
looked at this
treaty as a sign of peace and did nothing to intervene. The world
turned away and foreign troops, as well as all Caucasions, were
evacuated from Rwanda.
The movie Hotel Rwanda starts a few days prior to the president’s
murder. Don Cheadle (Ocean’s Eleven) plays real-life hero,
Paul Rusesabagina, an upper-class hotel manager who is left in
charge of the hotel after the white owners flee the country.
This story is told through the eyes of his family.
Rusesabagina is a Hutu married to a Tutsi with three children.
His family, therefore, is a target. He hides his family and almost
1200 Tutsis in the hotel, saving them from certain death.
uses his intelligence and cunning skills to bribe and outsmart
Rusesabagina urges the UN peacekeepers to bring help to Rwanda.
The world turns away and leaves the Tutsis to die. This powerful
and compelling movie makes the Rwanda genocide so much more real,
and seeing it through one family’s eyes, makes it that
much more painful. The cold hard facts are that Rwandans were
left to die.
The movie is 90 minutes long and keeps the audience emotionally
involved. It is also an educational piece that makes the viewer
better understand the particulars of the events and the horror
of genocide, in hopes thet international outrage would prevent
The movie has three academy award nominations: best actor,
best supporting actress, and best original screenplay.
It is being
called the “Black Schindler’s List.”
Paul Rusesabagina is being recognized as a real-life hero.
He recently visited the White House and met with President
who praised him for his courage.