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A Final Sacrifice: Captain Mbaye Diagne

1628 words - 7 pages

Instinct often dictates action, overriding any forethought or humanity. One of the most primitive, yet profound instincts is the survival instinct. Self preservation is deeply ingrained into nearly every aspect of life, including the lives of present day people. Thus, diverging from this most innate way of life in favor of saving the life of another is an extremely noteworthy action. The Holocaust is an example of a time in history where preservation often took priority because of its vicious nature. History was repeated in 1994, when decades after the Holocaust, terror, disaster and ugliness surrounded the people of the Rwandan genocide after Hutu forces began the mass killings of the Tutsi people. The predicted response to an ugly time is simply to survive. Given that one’s own survival is often prioritized over the needs of others under these circumstances, the actions of one individual, Captain Mbaye Diagne, were shocking. Amid the horror of the Rwandan genocide, Captain Mbaye Diagne demonstrated exceptional action in sacrificing, despite the barriers, to save the lives of countless others.
Diagne’s actions took place, during the brutal and cruel Rwandan genocide. During the Rwandan genocide, Tutsis faced horrendous violent acts at the hands of the Hutus who spoke the same language, lived in the same place and shared many of the same customs. However, during the Belgian occupation of the area, the Belgians had favored the Tusti, believing them to be ethically superior to the Hutus. This favoritism created hatred between the two closely related groups (Koestler-Grack). The genocide was a result of a bursting of tensions between Hutus and Tustis in Rwanda, after the Hutu president’s plane was shot down. In mere hours from the time of President Habyarimana's death, roadblocks were set up throughout Rwanda. In terms of military and strategic goals, the roadblocks served to efficiently eliminate Tutsis people passing through. If they could not produce the appropriate ethnic identity card to exonerate themselves, death was imminent (Resource information Center). On a more symbolic level, the roadblocks acted as a way for the Hutus to obstruct the “flow” of the Tutsis. The idea of flow is deeply embedded in Rwandan culture. The body must have a proper flow of fluids to be healthy, there must be social flow and communication between people, and political leaders are thought to have great influence in the flow of things in a nation. Consequently, to block the flow is a bold insult from the Hutus, signaling that they had obstructed the obstructers of the Rwanda’s political flow, or the Tustis (Taylor). The intentions of the roadblocks contributes to the magnitude of the atrocities committed. Not only were they well planned and used for efficient extermination, but their use as bold, demeaning statement highlights the horrific nature of the roadblocks. Around 20,000 moderate Hutus and Tutsis were killed within five days of the genocide’s start through...

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