Few days ago, the world held a remembrance for the brutal, horrible, and unimaginable massacre of hundreds of thousands of Rwandans – mainly Tutsis – in 1994. The genocide went on for about one hundred days from early April. At a time when many (foreign) peacekeeping troops were leaving and abandoning Rwandans to their own fate, some, including the man in this photo, chose – against all odds- to remain and save lives, in conscientious defiance of the Security Council order to evacuate.
One man who stood tall – and still stands tall – but remains modest and unsung, even as a speck of light in a very dark period, was the man you see in this photo, General Henry Kwami Anyidoho of Ghana.
In 2014, during a speech in Accra, Rwandan President Paul Kagame paid tribute to the valour, humanity, and leadership of General Anyidoho and the valiant Ghanaian peacekeepers he commanded to stay on to save lives. “One force alone ignored the order to withdraw: the 456 Ghanaian soldiers under the command of Maj-Gen Henry Kwami Anyidoho. They remained with us, technically illegally, through the darkest moments of our history, and helped save many thousands of lives,” Kagame said.
Rwanda’s Permanent Representative to the UN in New York, Ambassador Valentine Rugwabiza also adds this recognition in her interview with the UN’s Africa Renewal Magazine, (https://bit.ly/3t8yOl1) “At our hour of most need [during the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda], we were abandoned by the international community, the peacekeeping mission that was in Rwanda at that time was instructed by the UN Security Council to leave.
I should mention here that, despite those instructions, one contingent decided to stay – the Ghanaians. We will never forget that, no matter after how many generations. For them, our lives mattered. They didn’t prevent the genocide, but they saved a few thousands of lives.”
THEY STAYED, WHEN OTHERS FLED, AND SAVED MANY LIVES.
In his book, “GUNS OVER KIGALI” General Anyidoho (who served as the UN Deputy Force Commander at the time) states boldly, in the last sentence, “Anywhere I had the opportunity to talk about our operations in Rwanda, I emphasised the fact that we operated as a team and that was why we survived those horrific moments.” So, we give the high commendations, respect, and salute to all the gallant officers, men and women of the Ghana military who served under General Anyidoho and the UN during the 1994 genocide. Specifically, I’m able to identify these three, who’re personally known to me. Brig-General Emmanuel Kotia, who was then a young officer as well the late Generals, Emmanuel Koku Quist and Francis Vib-Sanziri
TODAY, we must celebrate General Anyidoho, as we remember the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda. He is approaching his 81st birthday in July, and remains full of wisdom, experience, and compassion that he’s willing to share from his esteemed services to Ghana, Africa, and the world. We can prevent any genocides when we learn from persons like him and also promote many more women and men with his sense of high professionalism, humanity, and integrity. God bless you, General Henry Kwami Anyidoho.
BIG LESSON FOR ME/YOU/US:
There comes a critical time when a man or woman of conscience, humanity, and history must “know what they see” and defy the unjust and inhumane orders/expectations of any collective or society, to exercise risk, courage, and leadership not for self, fame, power, and money, but for the lives of fellow human beings in danger. NEVER AGAIN.
By: Ben Dotsei Malor