As mentioned last week, I was looking forward to reading the book HOTEL RWANDA OR THE TUTSI GENOCIDE AS SEEN BY HOLLYWOOD so I could compare its version of events with the movie HOTEL RWANDA and the book AN ORDINARY MAN. See HOTEL RWANDA HERO'S BOOK.
Most of the non-reading public probably aren't aware that Paul Rusesabagina, the real-life hotel manager from the movie HOTEL RWANDA, has been going around the world saying that the Hutu masterminds of the 1994 genocide of Tutsis weren't all that bad and he still counts them as his friends.
And Paul Rusesabagina's fans probably don't know - unless they go and hear him speak - that he's accusing the Kagame government of Rwanda of being no better than the past government run by the likes of Bizimungu and Bagosora (pictured above), masterminds and perpetrators of the 1994 genocide of Tutsis.
Rusesabagina sure isn't acting like a Rwandan hero these days - lashing out as he is in hateful rhetoric against his homeland which he left twelve years ago, never to return. But then, from what this recent book about him says, he never WAS a hero other than in Hollywood land.
The book HOTEL RWANDA OR THE TUTSI GENOCIDE AS SEEN BY HOLLYWOOD, by Alfred Ndahiro* and Privat Rutazibwa exposes how the creators of the movie HOTEL RWANDA took heroic acts of others and ascribed them instead to just one man, their chosen hero, Paul Rusesabagina.
It turns out, according to the book, that Rusesabagina didn't even arrive at the "Thousand Hills Hotel" (the real "Hotel Rwanda") until a week after the genocide had started, by which time the hotel was already a place of safe refuge to hundreds of Tutsis who had been allowed through by UN soldiers permanently guarding the gate. The Belgian-owned hotel - and its refugees - were being managed by a reception clerk who had been given the job when the Dutch manager left after millions of Hutus started massacring thousands of Tutsis with machetes. See the hotel on the cover of the book scanned above (placed symbolically next to a pile of machetes).
Rusesabagina, the manager of another Belgian-owned hotel, the "Diplomat" pulled into the driveway of "Thousand Hills Hotel" that day as part of a convoy of vehicles of the genocidal government moving their headquarters out of the "Diplomat" in Kigali to the town of Gitarama 50 miles south. Rusesabagina was filling his SUV with hotel gas when he saw the opportunity to take over the reins of the most prestigious hotel in Rwanda. He decided not to leave with the convoy and instead appointed himself new manager of "Thousand Hills Hotel" and he and his family moved into Suite 126, where they lived for the next 76 days, availing themselves, free of charge, of food and beverages from the hotel's storage cellar.
That is just one example of many discrepancies of fact between the Hollywood version of HOTEL RWANDA and the Rwandan version of the THOUSAND HILLS HOTEL ("Hotel des Mille Collines" in french).
Below are excerpts from the book HOTEL RWANDA OR THE TUTSI GENOCIDE AS SEEN BY HOLLYWOOD with other differentiations between the movie and the facts, in the form of interviews of employees and refugees who were in the hotel while Rusesabagina was in charge. I hope the scanned pages (click two times to enlarge for reading) from Ndahiro's and Rutazibwa's book give readers enough information to start seriously questioning the version of the Rwandan genocide as put forth by Hollywood, the modern-day version of what Orwell described in "1984" as the Ministry of Truth (Lies) which concerned itself with falsifying the past.
On a personal note, I was pleasantly surprised when I noticed that something I had written in DESTINY DESTINATION RWANDA (from the chapter THE REAL HOTEL RWANDA) was quoted. It's on page 21 of HOTEL RWANDA OR THE TUTSI GENOCIDE AS SEEN BY HOLLYWOOD:
"...In the same vein, Jackie Jura says: "I, personally, didn't like the movie Hotel Rwanda, considering it trivializing of the plight of the Tutsi the way it soft-pedalled the butchering going on outside the hotel, by instead focusing all of its action on soap-opera type events going on inside the hotel. I never considered the star of the movie a hero, the way he was so blatantly portrayed as being friends with the brutes who were masterminding the killing, ie, the Minister of Defence and the head of the Interahamwe, among others...."
Also, I love the quote on the dedication page of HOTEL RWANDA OR THE TUTSI GENOCIDE AS SEEN BY HOLLYWOOD. It's by John F. Kennedy:
"The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie -
deliberate, contrived and dishonest - but the myth -
persistent, persuasive and unrealistic".
Having now finished reading and reviewing HOTEL RWANDA OR THE TUTSI GENOCIDE AS SEEN BY HOLLYWOOD, I'll put it on the shelf in the Rwanda section of my bookcase, another cherished addition to my library. ~ Jackie Jura
"...Pasa Mwenenganuke worked at the hotel as a receptionist up until the beginning of the genocide. He lived through the events that took place there and his account of them differs from Rusesabagina's. In the film he is portrayed as an obstinate, recalcitrant worker who refuses to obey his superior's commands. Here is his account.
"'Paul Rusesabagina arrived at the Hotel des Mille Collines accompanied by soldiers to get petrol as he was accustomed to doing. Very quickly he discovered that the Dutch manager, Mr Bik, had left, entrusting the keys to an inexperienced young manager, who was none other than myself. So I had to be replaced. I suppose he saw in this an opportunity that shouldn't be missed. Continuing on to Gitarama, where the interim government had relocated, was a journey into the unknown.
"'He sent for me and I was told that Mr Rusesabagina wanted the keys to the hotel. I found him at the reception desk, where he immediately ordered me to hand over the keys. I hesitated. I wanted him to show me evidence that he had been authorised by our bosses or the hotel owners, Sabena, in Brussels. The following day he presented me with a fax indicating that he was the new manager. I gave him the original keys but kept a master key because I could tell there would be a confrontation and that he would do me no favours as a hotel employee. This master key would for example allow me to easily get food for myself if I needed it.
"'Many refugees had already arrived before he assumed control of the hotel, and in no case had they been asked to pay for their food, drinks or rooms. Mr Bik wanted it to be that way until the evacuation....I imagine that when Rusesabagina took over the management, he wanted to run the mille Collines like any other hotel. He compiled a list of all the residents, and all the persons sleeping in the same room had to identify themselves and pay. At first most people paid cash, then by cheque. He accepted IOUs from people he respected or feared. Those who couldn't afford to pay were removed from the rooms and replaced by solvent guests.
"'The same system applied in the restaurant. Only those who paid were given food. Yet I know for a certainty, since I had a master key, that the supplies acquired before the genocide started were not exhausted.
"'He even began to charge for telephone calls. At first the residents used the telephones in the rooms, as hotel guests commonly do, and the amount payable was displayed at the reception desk. Rusesabagina decided to disconnect all the lines and leave only the one in his office. From that time on, all the calls and faxes to the outside had to be made from his office, after payment.
"'The same drastic measures were applied in the kitchen. When the refugees managed to get food from the outside and asked permission to cook it in the kitchen, Rusesabagina refused. It reached a point that the people began to cook over charcoal in the carpeted rooms. Since many peole were housed with me, we were in suite 221, which had a cooker that six families used on a daily basis....
"'All this time my master key was useful. I knew where the food supplies were and could go and grab something to cook in our suite. I even took drinks that I shared with friends and other refugees...
"'It didn't take long for Rusesabagina to notice I had kept a master key. Every time he went to the storeroom he noticed that something was missing, sometimes cases of wine. For him it was money lost that he could have pocketed. He became more and more hostile to me and completely excluded me from the management of the hotel, although strictly speaking I remained an employee. In fact I decided to spend most of my time in my room to make sure we wouldn't meet in the corridors...
"'Rusesabagina occupied suite 126, where he received his friends, including those who organized and planned the extermination of the Batutsi...'
"Abias Musonera started working at the Hotel des Mille Collines in 1978 as a technician and still works there today. He claims to know Rusesabagina very well, inasmuch as they worked together for a long time and come from the same place (Kabagari), in the Gitwe region. Here is his account:
"'...When Rusesabagina took over the management of the hotel, he received instructions from Brussels not to charge for food or rooms. I know this because I saw the fax he received from the head office of Sabena. But he didn't follow instructions and began to bill everything. The wealthy who were short of money gave their cars and their houses, and most of them signed pledges that they undertook to pay after the end of the war.
"'He should not claim to have saved the refugees in the hotel. Perhaps he saved one or two families by helping them get to the hotel, but he was not in a position to save the others. I think the refugees in the hotel survived thanks to their resilience and their determination to live. It was also clear that due to the talks that were going on in many places and at all levels, the Hotel des Mille Collines would be spared the carnage that was devastating the whole country.
"'I was evacuated on May 30, 1994 along with the other refugees who left for Kabuga in the RPF-controlled territory. Even though they were very anxious for me to stay, because I did the maintenance of the technical facilities, I could not resist the temptation to leave for a place where I was sure that my family and I would be safe.'
"Alexis Vuningoma ran the restaurant in the Hotel des Mille Collines. He stayed there right up until the evacuations:
"'When the genocide started, many people took refuge in the hotel. The first people we saw flocking in were expatriates who wanted to leave the country and who gathered at Mille Collines, the departure point for evacuations....Rwandans began to move in on the Sunday following the start of the massacres....
"'When Rusesabagina took over the management of the establishment, many refugees were already assembled there. He should not claim to have brought people in. The only people he brought in were staying with him beforehand at the Hotel des Diplomates...
"'As soon as he arrived, Rusesabagina told us to begin billing for the food, rooms and other services. That said, a certain number of his friends and favourites had access to everything free of charge. He had drawn up a list of people that were to be served free of charge and those who were to be charged. Those who had no money had to vacate the rooms and move into the cafeteria, which had been converted into a dormitory, or sleep in the corridors...
"'Those who make a hero of him will soon find out who he really is. One thing is certain: he was very good at placating his superiors. The bosses took him for a devoted, hard-working man, but we knew that he used us to climb the career ladder, not hesitating to spread false rumours about his colleagues. So it doesn't surprise me at all that he spreads lies to a gullible public.'
"Wellers Bizumuremyi was a receptionist at the Hotel des Mille Collines during the genocide. He still works there. The massacres began while he was at work and he stayed at the hotel. His wife and all his children perished in the carnage. Here is his account:
"'I was at work when the genocide began. I couldn't get back home. I stayed at the hotel until I was eventually evacuated to Kabuga, in the RPF-controlled territory. I worked at the reception desk. I was the person who greeted the refugees when they arrived. At first they were mostly whites who had been asked to assemble here before being evacuated. Then Rwandan refugees started to crowd in. The manager at the time, Mr Cornelius Bik, had told us before leaving that we were to house and feed them free of charge. He had added, if necessary, we were to convert the offices into bedrooms and allow the displaced persons to move in there.
"'When Rusesabgina arrived to fill the tank of his car (I remember, it was a Suzuki) and continue on his way to Gitarama with the genocidal government, two ideas dawned on him and he changed his mind. First of all, the Hotel des Mille Collines no longer had a manager. He knew that it was the largest establishment in the country and had a lot of resources. So he rang our bosses in Brussels, who authorised him to take over the management. Secondly, Rusesabagina had a Mututsi wife. Even if he had friends in the genocidal government, this trip was too dangerous for his wife and children. They were safer within the confines of the hotel.
"'In spite of the instructions he had received from the former manager, Rusesabagina began to charge for the food and rooms. The refugees complied as long as their cash resources lasted...At one point those who had no money were refused entrance to the hotel. If I remember correctly, Dr Habyarimana was turned away because he had no money to pay. He was told to return to the St Famille Church** where he had taken refuge. Those who claim that Rusesabagina chose to come to the Hotel des Mille Collines to save lives or that he saved lives while working there are liars.
"'No one was keeping the books at the hotel at that time. He could sell food from the stocks for as much as he wanted, there was no one to prevent him from doing so. Incidently, terrible as it may sound, he was not very happy to see the Red Cross bring food. That's why he told the refugees to cook outside in the garden.
"'As for the film, I think it misrepresents the events that took place in the hotel and that it makes Rusesabagina into a hero that he does not qualify to be. Many people have told me they will never go to see it.
"'I was one of the first people who were evacuated on May 17, 1994. Rusesabagina arrived with the next group, supplied with drinks that he continued to sell or to give out to his friends...'
"Ancilla Mukangir worked for a German NGO. She succeeded in reaching the American Club, where the expatriates that were to be evacuated were being registered....It was there that she met a Senegalese captain by the name of Mbayewho worked with UNAMIR and agreed to take her to the Hotel des Mille Collines. Here is her story:
"'I arrived at the Hotel des Mille Collines on April 9, 1994, two days after the genocide started. A certain Captain Mbaye, who worked with UNAMIR, brought me there....He's the same man who took Agathe Uwilingiyimana's children*** to the hotel and hid them until they were evacuated from Rwanda.
"'I arrived before Rusesabagina, whom I had never met before. Although I was deeply traumatised, I was happy to find a place where I could take refuge and receive food free of charge; Captain Mbaye always stressed the fact that we were refugeees and shouldn't have to pay. According to him it was up to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees to cover the expenses. He told us that if we were given bills we should send them to him.
"'When Rusesabagina arrived he took command immediately. He assembled us and told us that we had to pay for the services provided by the hotel. These were the instructions from Brussels he said. He began charging 500 Rwandan francs for each meal. Many people paid for the meals and the rooms until they ran out of money. Then they used cheques and after that, written pledges. Apparently the cheques were cashed in Gitarama, where the banks had relocated, following the decision by the genocidal government to relocate there.
"'I would also like to point out that before Rusesabagina arrived at the Hotel des Mille Collines, everyone who reached the complex was accepted. After his arrival he decreed that he alone had the authority to decide whether or not to admit people....
"'Rusesabagina lies when he claims to have saved us and procured food to prepare our meals with. The truth is that the refugees arranged to get their own food and cook it themselves. Many people helped people like me who had no money. I went to see the film but I walked out in the middle in disgust. Hotel Rwanda shows neither the horrors we experienced nor the way Paul Rusesabagina frustrated our efforts to find a way out of that terrible situation.'
"As we pointed out above, most of the Hotel des Mille Collines refugees we interviewed confirm that life was much better before Rusesabagina arrived..."
"Alexander Nzizera, a businessman who fled to Hotel des Milne Collines on April 14, 1994, has this to say:
"'Rusesabagina began to prevent people from entering the hotel if they didn't have money. He claimed that he had to manage the hotel just as he would under normal circumstances, whereas he knew full well that before his arrival no refugee had had to pay a thing. I wonder how a man like him can dare to appear before President Bush as a savior and hero.'
"Immaculee Mukanyonga is now a retired journalist. She was brought to the Hotel Mille Collines on April 9, 1994 as were many other refugees, by Victor Munyarugerero, a Muhutu married to a Tutsi woman who had been hiding them in his house. All the refugees salute the devotion, generosity and sense of sacrifice he showed the Tutsi refugees at the Hotel des Mille Collines. But Mrs Mukanyonga has a very unpleasant memory of Rusesabigina's management.
"'They wanted to evict us from the hotel but we refused to leave. Victor had to make out a cheque for 7 million Rwandan francs as a security. They refused to let us use the water and we drew water from the swimming pool.'
"Without openly accusing Rusesabagina of criminal acts, many survivors of the hotel suspect him of being in collusion with the architects of the genocide, notably by his relentlessly pursuing profit and harassing the refugees, which had devastating consequences on their morale. Immaculee Mukanyonga concludes her comments as follows:
"'Rusesabagina had very close ties with the Interahamwe militia, with Bagosora and Bizimungu, men who vowed to kill us all. Even the heads of Interahamwe militia, Karamir and Robert Kajuga, visited him frequently.'
"Kujuga Wycliff has nothing but contempt for Paul Rusesabagina. He got to Hotel des Mille Collines before Rusesabagina. Prior to that he had sought shelter at the Hotel des Diplomates where Rusesabagina worked, and had been turned away. This is what he relates:
"'It is a travesty to treat Paul Rusesabagina as a hero. It reflects total ignorance of the reality of life in the hotel. The film itself is a fiction inasmuch as it doesn't depict events as they unfolded. Paul Rusesabagina pretended to manage the hotel by applying the lecture notes he had studied in college. Why didn't anyone say that he'd saved people at the Hotel des Diplomates, which he managed before going to Mille Collines? He knows perfectly well that we tried to seek refuge there and that we were turned away in his presence and he didn't stand up for us. Must we deduce that he was unable to save the residents of the Hotel des Diplomates and that he acquired the courage after he arrived at Hotel des Mille Collines?
"'Let no one propagate lies! We owe our survival at Hotel des Mille Collines to God alone! The Interahamwe militia came and went as they pleased and if they had wanted to they could have finished us off without anyone interfering.
"'What surprised us was that as soon as Rusesabagina got to the hotel he started to charge for the rooms and food. Those who couldn't pay had to vacate their rooms and give them to those whose wallets were fuller. This is never shown in the film...."[end quoting from Hotel Rwanda or the Tutsi Genocide as Seen by Hollywood]
RUSESABAGINA RAVES RE RWANDA (Reader Michael says Rusesabagina invited to give presentation in University in the US)
Rusesabagina says Rwanda smearing him (accused of profiting from genocide) & Hotel Rwanda hero at Lake Superior U (talking discrimination & complacency). Soo/SaultStar, Oct 31, 2008. Go to 17.Falsification of Past
HOLLYWOOD RWANDA TUTSI GENOCIDE, review of book by Alfred Ndahiro & Privat Rutazibwa
Interview with Paul Rusesabagina in the Hague. YouTube, April 26, 2008
...Q: Those you claim to have rescued in Rwanda call you a liar with a hidden political agenda... A:...Of course, the Rwandan government, which is also guilty, is using the Mille Collines' surviviors, especially a few of them who are still in the country, who are hostages, in a smear campaign against all my actions...Q:...Are you afraid for your life? A: ...Definitely, President Kagame himself has harrassed me in his own words....He went as far as calling me a Hollywood-made-heroes in front of my wife...
Genocide fugitive sighted in USA (spearheaded Sainte Famille killings). NewTimes, May 4, 2008
***Rwandans call her Madame. Winnipeg Sun, May 4, 2008
...When I think about all of the trials Rwanda is going through or the efforts to create peace in other countries, my mind rests on the image of Agathe Uwilingiyimana, or Madame Agathe as she was known in Rwanda. She was the female prime minister of Rwanda during the period of the Genocide. As an ethnic Hutu, she was reviled by Hutu extremists, particularly from within her own government, for her moderation and rejection of racial discrimination....She would be ostracized because the political party she was involved with rejected any government that did not bring in the Tutsi-dominated Rwandan Patriotic Front (The RPF forcefully ended the Genocide in 1994)....Sadly, during the early days of the genocide, Madame Agathe and her husband were sought out by Hutu extremists in the Rwandan military and were murdered in their home. Gen. Romeo Dallaire credits her as a powerful voice that could have helped in calming fears in the early part of the Genocide. In fact, she was preparing to address the nation before her assassination. The world needs more Madame Agathes.
**GENOCIDAL SAINT FAMILLE
HOTEL RWANDA HERO'S BOOK
Hotel Rwanda movie sparks public feud. National Post, Apr 26, 2008
Rusesabagina 'Subscribes to Hutu Political Supremacy' - Author Claims. Rwanda News Agency, Apr 22, 2008
Rusesabagina entangled himself in his own lies. New Times, Apr 12, 2008
Rusesabagina responds to Rwanda government book on 'Hotel Rwanda'. EUX-TV, Apr 12, 2008
*RWANDA BEFORE & AFTER and 10 YEARS ON - THE STORY OF RWANDA, by Dr Alfred Ndahiro, Communications Advisor to President Kagame
RWANDA'S GOOD MAN KAGAME and HOW KAGAME BECAME RWANDA'S LEADER
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~