The blizzards of lies will never wash
A story goes that two kids had a chat-up with President Paul Kagame when one time he met with their family. After the chat, the boy, puzzled, turned to his younger sister and exclaimed: “But he does not look or talk strong!” And the sister, with an air of one with a sharper observation sense, responded: “Oh, yeah? Did you feel his handshake?”
Little thing, of course, she could not have guessed that that struggle-and-tennis-hardened hand was the furthest thing on the mind of the ‘creators’ when they were constructing that strongman image. Nor could any of us have.
Who would have known that the ‘creators’ had in mind the image of, as examples, an Oriega or a Saddam? Which characters, for those like me given to memory lapses, Google will reveal, brutalised their people and gave the West the chance to disgrace them. These Western media, humanitarian, rights-defending, peace-keeping and democracy-barometer organisations are not idle babblers. They have the ear of their governments exactly because they are their opinion-shapers.
And the organisations know this. So they go to all lengths to ensure that the forged image is disseminated to all states: developed, developing or basket. Young and old everywhere, we imbibe the image and it is imbedded in our mind. And so the world recites it. Our kids recite it. More often than not, even we, the affected, recite it.
But how did President Kagame and Rwanda get to facing off with the organisations? It so happened that in 1994 there was a new government here that was intent on not answering to their whims. That, to all intents and purposes, did not bode well for business for these image-smiths. So they went to work. There was a minority group, after all, and a majority.
The RPF chairman and the ruling party were declared ‘minority-dominated’ – but no re-visit on detail. Simply that the RPA commander was projected as the real power behind the new throne. Then-Vice-President Kagame – for commander, he was – was put in cross-hairs. This, in spite of bizarrely comical consequences, sometimes.
Like one time when USA, acting on shaped opinion, sent ex-President Jimmy Carter on a mission to mediate between “two warring parties” of Rwandans. During a pause in the mediation meeting in Libya, Carter looked at Bizimungu, then President of Rwanda, and asked: “But, Mr. Bizimungu, why don’t you put at least one Hutu in your government?”
Then-President Bizimungu turned to President Museveni, who turned to then-President Nyerere, who in turn turned to then-President Mobutu and asked him if he could explain. Obliging, late Mobutu adjusted his leopard beret and confided: “Beut, Presidan Carrtehr, Bizimungu is ’Utu! Aussi ’is Prrime Ministehr and beaucoup ministehrs!” After a long stare at them, Jimmy Carter left the meeting for home.
But the organisations were not fazed. They may have dropped the strongman image with the more subsequent embarrassments it caused but they did not stop the search for other objects of attack. And so the bête noire, among many other ‘bêtes’, that was the popular traditional court system that the government re-introduced to try Genocide suspects.
Heaps of criticisms were piled on Gacaca courts but the government stuck to its guns. Seeing a government that was acting deaf, the organisations increased the number of targeted areas. They pulled apart every programme introduced by the government. Universal health insurance. Compulsory primary school education. Community self-help efforts.... The catalogue.
When the organisations looked back at their first bête noire, Gacaca courts, Rwandans were preparing to celebrate the conclusion of Genocide trials. Come next Monday (18.6.12), this noble community court system will mark its tenth year. A decade of sterling show, having cleared close to 2 million Genocide cases. A far cry from the shameful spectacle of a dollar-devouring international court at Arusha. For the longer period of its sorry existence, ICTR has hardly tried dozens of cases.
Unfortunately, it’s a sorry existence the replica of which Rwanda is saddled with today. First, one in the name of Ingabire is playing dumb, unwilling to account for herself. Second, another in the name of Mugesera first pleads amnesia, then talks in tongues. After swearing to having forgotten his native lingo, Mugesera is now speaking Kinyarwanda, French, English, Latin and Greek! Mum or tongues, though, they know the hammer will finally fall.
Now the organisations are up in arms? Rwanda is involved in the messy muddle of its neighbour? The organisations may congratulate themselves at this coup of hoodwinking the DRC into trumpeting their tune. They should know, however, that it doesn’t take a genius to pull off. Our neighbour, for all it is worth, would surprise if it did not fall for a token assistance by MONUSCO to defend miniscule Bunagana. But what about the rest of the exposed vast territory?
That apart, if history hasn’t taught them anything, let the Mendes (not Kiswahili!) of the DRC know. M-paka (!) now, after a month or two, if there were a handful of Rwandan soldiers in that mutinying group, Kinshasa, like Kigali, would now be a clean, orderly city. Those who have ears.....
Today, even those kids, wherever they are in Switzerland, can recount the numerous blizzards of lies Rwanda has so far weathered. This little trickle? As day follows night, anon time will tell.
Contact email: butapa[at]gamail.com