Stromae, “Tous Les Mêmes” and the Rwandan Genocide – Blog Post #6

Welcome back to my blog post for my final installment of my analysis of the hit song “Tous Les Mêmes” by singer-songwriter Stromae. In my last post I discussed the Rwandan Genocide and the effects it specifically had on women. To continue the discussion today we are going to open it up to be a slightly more broad discussion on the overall aspects and effects of the genocide, then obviously tying it back to Stromae’s song and music video.

The Rwandan Genocide was an ethnic cleansing of the Tutsi and moderate Hutu ethnic groups in the early 1990. The genocide left over 800,000 people dead and destroyed countless families, leaving children or women behind to rebuild a life on their own without any rights. During the war, sexual violences were very prevalent as there were many expectations of the ethnic groups, as researched in Patricia Weitsman’s “The Politics of Identity and Sexual Violence: A Review of Bosnia and Rwanda”. In addition to the killing of primarily the Tutsis in Rwanda, there were mass rapes committed resulting as a critical part of the genocide. As stated through Weitsman’s research, “It is estimated that 90 percent of Tutsi women and girls who survived the genocide were sexually molested in some manner . . . According to one study, Butare province alone has more than 30,000 rape survivors” (Weitsman). Rape is a form of exerting power over others, it is never truly about the sex, making this a common way to have one’s dominance personally validated. It is insane to think that after the genocide it took the acknowledgement of someone who had essentially become a foreigner to identify and try to extract the problem of the oppression of women, as mentioned in my last post.

The mass rape of women during the genocide became a major part of the war due to the propaganda that was spread throughout the nation in order to respectively target Tutsi women. In regards to Stromae and specifically the song we’ve been discussing, I think he is particularly influenced by his paternal-Rwandese background and the treatment of women in the nation. He utilizes his platform to identify the stereotypes and unhappiness of women, however, he balances out his critiques by drawing parallels from a man’s perspective. These Tutsi women were blueprinted during the war in terms of, “their supposed promiscuity and their feelings of superiority toward Hutu men, who were considered unattractive and lower class . . . who were agents of their brothers, fathers, and sons . . . seductress spies, who believed they were far too good for Hutu men” (Weitsman). The slander directed at Tutsi women as the result of a generalization is again, insane, but utterly unsurprising as it comes down to my next point regarding a connection to “Tous Les Mêmes”.

In Stromae’s song, the first few lyrics translated from French state, “You guys are all the same / Macho but cheap / Bunch of unfaithful cowards / So predictable”. Women have grown into have an expectation of the way men act, so despite the disgusting, utterly disturbing targeted mass rape and murder of Tutsi women, it is one of the mere ways men find that they can overpower women. I say this because I’m sure with evolving times, despite the newfound advocacy for women’s rights in Rwanda, that men have realized what little power they truly hold. Being submissive to a man is out of style and it won’t be making a comeback any time soon, as women have also realized the power they do hold. Rape in war and in general is used as, “a tactic to degrade, humiliate, and undermine the enemy’s morale may entail the desire to drive the enemy out of a particular geographic region of a country in order to assert ethnic and political dominance” (Weitsman). The ultimate goal was to clear out the Tutsi and moderately Hutu ethnic groups, either through sexual assault and murder, or the fear these actions rose.

The Rwandan Genocide has a lot of moving parts that are often overlooked by the very people still affected by it today, however this is the last installment of my music video analysis in correlation with African History and Culture. Thanks so much for joining me, and make sure to read my prior posts if you haven’t already to draw your own conclusions on the influence in modern music. All the videos discussed are embedded here on my page!

Weitsman, Patricia A.”The Politics of Identity and Sexual Violence: A Review of Bosnia and Rwanda.” Human Rights Quarterly, vol. 30 no. 3, 2008, pp. 561-578. Project MUSE, doi:10.1353/hrq.0.0024

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *