Sometime in April is a film that narrates about events that took place in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide. Rwanda is a small country in Africa that has two tribes, Hutus and Tutsis. When the Belgians left Rwanda, power was left to the Hutus who were the majority. When the Belgians were in this country, they preferred working with the minority Tutsis to the majority Hutu. Leadership positions were given to the Tutsis. This created a great hatred between the two tribes.
The Hutus took over power determined to exert their power over the Tutsis. When the world intervened, a section of the elite Hutus organized one of the worst massacres that has ever been witnessed in the world history. While the president of this country was signing agreement between the Hutus and Tutsis that was necessitated by the United Nation, a group of army generals were busy preparing the military and the militants for a secret mission that would result in a mass massacre.
When the president left the meeting, his plane was short down by unknown assailants. Both sides blamed each other for this massacre. Tutsis blamed the Hutus for taking away the life of a president who was a liberal, while the Hutus blamed the Tutsis for killing the president by virtue of his tribe. This sparked the war.
Soon after bringing down the president’s plane, a group of Hutus attacked then the prime minister’s house and killed her and some members of her family. Other massacres sprung out spontaneously in various parts of the country. The military generals were majorly the Hutus.
The majority of foot soldiers were also Hutus. In a manner that showed some planning, the military split into two. The Hutu soldiers killed their Tutsi counterparts. Because they were the minority, they could not do much. During the first day of the war, over eight thousand people, majorly Tutsis, were killed.
The country completely lost sanity as the two tribes viewed each other as enemies. The majority Hutu took control of the country completely. The mission of the Hutu military and the militants was to eliminate all the Tutsis. Through radio broadcasts, Hutus were encouraged to eliminate the Tutsis using crude weapons. The presenters would refer to the Tutsis as ‘inyenzi’, which is translated as “cockroach”.
They would urge the Hutu militants to use machetes on them other than wasting bullets. The militants were supplied with machetes and other forms of crude weapon. The war spread very quickly. To ensure that the Tutsis could not escape to other neighboring countries, the roads were blocked very fast by both the militants and the soldiers. They inspected all travelers and if anyone were identified as a Tutsi or a Tutsi sympathizer, he or she would be eliminated on the spot.
The decision to watch this movie came out of the desire to know what transpired in Rwanda during the genocide. The movie brings out the whole scenario in a much clear and elaborate manner. This movie is a direct criticism of the international society. The international society did not take any serious action to end this madness.
The United Nations sent troops to release the whites who were trapped in this scuffle. With very strict instructions to follow, the soldiers rescued the whites, not attempting at all to rescue the Tutsis whose lives were more at danger than the Hutus. This clearly indicated that the International society failed to see the need to save the Tutsis from an eminent elimination.
The marauding youths and soldiers would go to schools and churches eliminating any Tutsi or their sympathizers who sought refuge in such places. This was happening while the international society watched from a distance.
Augustine, the main character who narrates the story, lost his wife who happened to be a Tutsi, his daughter Ann and two sons. This was important to bring out the impact of the catastrophe. By killing the entire family of the main character, the producers created a scenario, which allowed viewers to sympathize with those who lost their families.
Analysis of the Movie
Sometime in April presents us with an intriguing scenario. The war between the two tribes, as revealed in the movie, was inevitable. The producers keenly brought out this to reflect the real incidents that took place in Rwanda. There was a deeply rooted mistrust and hatred between the two tribes.
Whereas the Hutus viewed the Tutsis as traitors who were used by the colonial government to frustrate the majority Hutus, the Tutsis viewed Hutu as greedy individuals who were keen on ensuring that they remain in power and deprive the Tutsis of their hard-earned wealth. Because of their strength in numbers, the Hutus ensured that they controlled the government with an iron fist against the Tutsis. The war started at a pace that was very alarming. According to the movie, over eight thousand people died each day.
To an extent, the producers used liberty to make the movie more interesting. When the movie begins, we are left guessing who could have been responsible for bringing down the plane. In as much as one might believe that Tutsi rebels wanted to create tension so that they could get the reason to start the war, there is much more than has been brought to the eye. The army generals, who were Hutus, were not taken aback by this incident.
On the contrary, they were keen on what to do next. The pattern of killing during this genocide showed a clearly planned massacre by both sides. The army generals were critical of the president for making many concessions. Although the movie does not categorically state which of the two sides was responsible, all signs point out to the possibility that those responsible were Hutu hardliners who were displeased with the president for giving in to the pressures of the international society.
The producers have given both sides of the story a proper presentation. This was purely an ethnic war, pitting the Hutus against the Tutsis. The war was an internal affair of Rwanda as a state. However, the response of the world powers was very poor.
The United Nations was established to ensure that there is peace in the world and it has the mandate to intervene in case there is a case of mass murder in a country, irrespective of weather the country is sovereign or not (Rikhof 67). However, the soldiers sent by the United Nations were keen to rescue the whites only.
As it can be seen from the movie, the target was not the whites. There is no specific point when any side of the warring parties attacked the whites. Although it was justified to remove them from the country that was in flames, the main issue was to rescue the Tutsis who were dying in large numbers. To send troops to rescue whites was therefore a sign of lack of concern by the global society.
In a high profile meeting organized by the US officials, one of the delegates wanted to know what the US would gain if it could send its troops to this country.
It is a fact that the US, just like any other sovereign country in the world, has the capacity to determine which war to join and which one to avoid, depending on the relevance of the war. However, by virtue of being the sole superpower, this country had a direct responsibility to ensure that humanity is protected. Letting things get out of control was a decision that would earn some degree of criticism.
The film is a reflection of what took place in Rwanda. It has employed fiction to bring out the realities of the Rwandan genocide. The filmmakers were keen to bring out a very appealing movie with characters and flow of the story. This has made the movie to be very interesting. I therefore enjoyed watching it and would recommend it to others because it is educative. Because of this, I would keep it on the supplemental films list.
The movie ‘Sometime in April’ is a very captivating and poignant film. It narrates what took place during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. It captures the mass killings of the Tutsis by the majority Hutus. It also brings to light the role of the media in the massacre.
Although one of the US officials said that radio stations do not kill, it is evident from the movie that radio stations were more dangerous than the swords and the bullets. They spread hate speech, which literally encouraged the Hutus to kill the Tutsis irrespective of age or gender.
To ensure that the listeners could be motivated for this task, the radio stations reminded the Hutus that it was the Tutsis who were used by the Belgian government to suppress the Hutus. The movie is articulately presented. It elicits emotions as it focuses on the murders that took place during this time. It is done in a way that makes it real.
Rikhof, Joseph. “Hate speech and international criminal law, the Mugesera decision by the Supreme Court of Canada”. JIC, 3.1, 2005, 1121-1133.