Prof. Yash Ghai, reading your article in Kenya’s Standard newspaper carrying the headline, “What they don’t tell you about Rwanda,” left me wondering whether you are a victim of the rabid intellectualism that is slowly undermining the once vibrant academic world in Africa.
Professor, putting lipstick on a frog does not make it any less ugly.
You replay an old song---chanting the same rhetoric-- human rights, democracy, DRC plunder, elite class of Tutsis-----a song that has simply lost its tune.
Facts are facts no matter who presents them, conversely facts that have been proved as untrue or baseless do not become factual because someone else has presented them.
It would have been more prudent for the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative that sanctioned your research, to have simply picked up a Human Rights Watch report on Rwanda prepared, say in 1998 to serve the same purpose.
Reason? The indisputable similarities between your ‘facts’ gathered under the cover of darkness, and those that the HRW have tried, with little success, over and again to sell to all and sundry.
Professor you fell short of saying that Rwanda has turned into a North Korea when you claim that everyone you spoke to kept mum “except on assurances of anonymity.”
But you were so theoretical because you don’t provide any empirical evidence to back up your accusations. How many have been thrown behind bars for speaking their mind?
True, some people could be censoring their own speech, but is that orchestrated by the government? Wouldn’t one also blame it on the despotic post colonial history of this country?
For almost 40 years, the citizens of Rwanda were subjected to no forms of freedom at all.
Did the good old man of the bench peruse through some of the articles published by our local tabloids? The army which you say “runs” the show in Kigali, has become a punching bag for these tabloids.
In fact it has become a rule within their newsrooms that each issue has to have an RDF General on its cover page.
And Prof. Ghai the problem is not having the general on the front covers---no---the problem is that their stories are packed with concoctions, mudslinging, lies and very provocative.
But interestingly, none of these Generals, leave alone government, has pounced on their necks. They operate with a free hand, which would not be the case in some countries. So Prof. Ghai, how do you conclude that this government rules through “oppression and fear?”
You make outrageous accusations against the RPF. Much of which seemed misplaced and looked like ‘copy and paste’ material from critics of this nation.
You concentrated your punches on the government under the leadership of the RPF, accusing it of all sorts of crimes in the DRC. But Prof. you either failed or simply chose to ignore the very reasons Rwanda went into the Congo.
I thought you were a son of the soil and therefore could have a better grasp of African issues than our friends from the west. Why would you choose to ignore the question of the notorious militia group, Interahamwe and simply repeat the same chorus---plundering!!
Prof. Ghai, I wouldn’t want to call you a genocide negationist, simply because I don’t think you are one. But the punch-line you decided to take only showed that you read from the same scriptures.
How else would you come up with an allegation like “When considered strategic, the RPF allowed the killing of Tutsis?”
Such an allegation is not only painful to the very people who stopped this slaughter as the rest of the world watched, but it is intended to open a new discourse on the Genocide against Tutsi.
You go further to say, RPF “did not speed up the campaign” to stop the genocide is simply being naïve. What was Romeo Dallaire whom you quote in your story doing? Between RPF and UN, which side had more resources and arms?
Why didn’t the UN use the arsenal it had to save lives, or better still, share its weaponry with the RPF since they were saving lives?
Prof. Ghai, you needed more time to digest and fully comprehend the political discourse that Rwanda is taking. But above all, you needed to appreciate the political maneuvers and calculations that this country has to experience on a daily basis for it to remain stable.
Just like our friends from the west, you came with a template of ‘one-size- fits- all’ kind of democracy. But that, like you have seen in your own country, is failing. Rwanda’s democratic path has to be crafted depending on the prevailing situation that is dictated by our history.
Prof. Ghai, you almost put your intellect and experience to question when you dwell much on some malicious accusations.
For example, you say RPF has denied millions of children a chance to education. You insist that Tutsis have appropriated Hutu land. You castigate RPF for “conscripting” child soldiers.
Isn’t this a pile of lies that cannot convince even the blind and deaf?
If your script was not edited by an enemy of this nation, then I beg to understand why you would pre-occupy yourself with past falsehoods.
You said, “the country has relied heavily for its revenue (to fund its institutions and elite) on plunder of the mineral resources of the DRC?” Did you honestly bother to find out from our national treasury how much comes from minerals—what kind of minerals Rwanda has before concluding that the ‘nation relies heavily” on Congo’s resources?
You started off well, saying you were impressed by President Paul Kagame’s advice to Kenya during a Nairobi prayer break fast. While you enjoyed the clean boulevards of Kigali, you took time to read our constitution.
But unfortunately being a constitutional expert, I expected an in-depth diagnosis or critic of our constitution from you sir. I was only disappointed to see you awakening trivial past distortions.
But above all, since you were in-charge of drafting a constitution for your nation, Kenya, which up to now you have failed to do, I hoped you would pick some strong elements within our constitution that would guide you in finishing off the task you were given.