(Re-)imagining a reluctant post-genocide society : the Rwandan Patriotic Front's ideology and practice(Re-)imagining a reluctant post-genocide society : the Rwandan Patriotic Front's ideology and practice
Institute of Development Policy and Management
Development processes, actors and policies
Journal of genocide research.. - Basingstoke
18(2016):1, p. 61-81
University of Antwerp
The Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) has developed an elaborate ideology that it articulates widely and skilfully. While some themes have been the subject of research, an overall approach is lacking. This article brings together analyses of four major themes in the RPF's ideology. Two are closely related: history is the backward-looking basis for the RPF's societal policies, while national unity and reconciliation are the present and forward-looking ones. The two other themes addressed are nationalism/self-reliance and high modernism. For each of these themes, this article presents their emergence and substance, followed by an assessment of their practice and implementation. Two major flaws in the RPF's ideology are addressed: its at times shaky factual and historical foundation, and its use to legitimize policies that have little popular support. The gap between the public and hidden transcripts is particularly problematic with regard to the issues of history and unity/reconciliation, on which there is no common reading. The fact that strong underground narratives on these themes contrast with the RPF's ideology suggests that Rwanda is not heading towards long-term peace and stability.