Hotel Rwanda is a 2004 film about the Rwandan genocide.
It tells the true story of Paul Rusesabagina who sheltered 1,268 Tutsi and Hutu moderates in the Hôtel des Mille Collines at the height of the genocide. The Mille Collines hotel was the only safe harbor in the entire country.
From April to July 1994, 800,000 Tutsis were exterminated by their Hutu neighbors, around 3/4ths of the Tutsi population of Rwanda.
It was the largest mass murder in the shortest period of time in world history. 20 percent of Rwanda’s population was wiped out before the RPF rebels broke the ceasefire and overran the country in July.
The whole Hutu population was mobilized to participate in the genocide by the Interahamwe militias. Doctors and nurses killed their patients. Husbands killed their Tutsi wives and children. Hutu pastors even participated in the extermination of their Tutsi congregations.
The film is historically accurate:
(1) After the RPF seized control of Rwanda, 2 million Hutu refugees fled to Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, and Zaire.
(2) The Rwandan genocide was orchestrated by the highest levels of the Rwandan military and prominent Hutu businessmen in the country.
(3) The gang rape of Tutsi women before their extermination was the rule, not the exception.
(4) Most Tutsis were hacked to death with machetes. Some of them paid to be shot by their Hutu executioners.
(5) Almost 50,000 Tutsi bodies floated down the Kagera river into Lake Victoria. In the early 1960s (this was shown in Africa Addio), there was a smaller genocide and Tutsi bodies were thrown into the Kagera river for they would “float back to Ethiopia.”
(6) The Tutsis were called “cockroaches” on Hutu Power radio. The term “inyenzi” (or cockroaches) was used by Tutsi guerrillas to describe their infiltration tactics in the 1960s.
(7) As we saw in Black History Month 2012: Review: Shake Hands With The Devil, Lieutenant Roméo Dallaire really was a guilt ridden DWL who blamed “racism” for the failure of the West to intervene in Rwanda.
(8) Italy and Belgium sent troops to evacuate their own citizens, but left the Tutsi to die.
(9) The Belgian contingent was attacked and 10 Belgian soldiers were tortured and murdered to force Belgium to pull its troops out of Rwanda. The Hutus were applying the lessons learned from Somalia.
(10) The U.N. did almost nothing to stop the genocide and dithered over the meaning of the term “genocide” for months. President Clinton didn’t want to send troops to Rwanda after the “Black Hawk Down” incident in Somalia.
Paul Rusesabagina really was a black hero.
There are several layers of irony in the fact that Don Cheadle was cast to play Rusesabagina in Hotel Rwanda. Just a few months ago, Cheadle went public with his hope that Obama would “do some gangsta shit” in his second term.
If you watch the DVD version, Cheadle can also be found pleading before the movie for the West to intervene in the Darfur crisis in Sudan. In the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide, the Hutu refugee camps in Eastern Congo sparked the Congo Wars which led to the deaths of 5.4 million people.
In the movie, Rusesabagina pleads with gangsters like General Bizimungu and Georges Rutaganda to spare the lives of his family and the refugees at the Mille Collines. President Juvénal Habyarimana, whose death was used as the pretext to launch the genocide, was involved in the Akazu clique who plotted it and armed the Interahamwe.
OD celebrates Black History Month 2012 by noticing that African-Americans like Don Cheadle and Chris Rock have learned nothing from the Rwandan genocide.