Members’ Military History Lecture – Tracing the Roots of the Rwandan Patriotic Front

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A new book, The Resilience of a Nation: A History of the Military in Rwanda, by Brigadier General Frank Rusagara, provides more than a clue suggesting the inevitability of the Rwandan genocide and the moulding of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) to what it would turn out to be as a politico-military organisation.

Tracing the RPF to a socio-military tradition spanning nearly a millennium, the book distils the country’s history beginning with the pre-colonial, colonial and post-independence periods to the present asserting that ‘the history of Rwanda is the history of its military’.

In his presentation, Brigadier General Rusagara will take stock of this history and will outline how this gave rise to the inyenzi guerrilla movement in the 1960s and then the Rwanda Patriotic Front and Army (RPF/A) in the late 1980s and early 90s; leading to the pragmatism of the current Rwanda Defence Force (RDF). This pragmatism has not only seen the RDF gain international respect and recognition in peace support operations in conflict areas such as Darfur, but provides a model of national unity and integration that continues to inform Rwanda’s socio-political and economic development.

Brigadier General Frank Rusagara is currently the Director of the Department of Information, Documentation and Military History in the Rwandan Defence Force. Born in Rwanda, he lived, studied and worked in Uganda and Kenya. He was involved in the struggle for the liberation of Rwanda and, after 1994, held several portfolios in policy formulation and implementation as a senior officer of the Government of Rwanda in the Ministry of Defence. He is a Visiting Fellow at RUSI.

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