There is a new political party in Rwanda which seems to have trouble with names. It was born in a ontroversy about its name, and has since courted more controversy.
Its founders wanted to register it as PSI. But another, more respectable and useful organisation protested that they already had exclusive rights to the initials PSI and no one else could use the same initials, least of all a political party as they were non-political.
They won. The political party kept the P S (is it perhaps postscript?) and were compelled to write out I in full (imberakuri).
We thought the party had earned enough publicity and would not engage in another quarrel about a name or anything else.
We were wrong, and as if to prove the point, the founder and president immediately dashed off in indecent haste to Europe to link up with some of the most rabid enemies of Rwanda and announced an alliance with the rabid mob.
The aim of the alliance? To unsettle the current political arrangement and cause mayhem. He gloated about the alliance struck in Europe to sort out Rwanda’s politics.
It was clear what his intentions, suspected all along, were – a return to the politics of the past, politics inspired by hate.
This was too much, even, for his party. His lieutenants disowned him. There was an unseemly public quarrel. It suited our man very well.
Quarrelling seems to be his natural form of communication and the preferred method of publicity. The party leadership split – again something that suited him. You see our man likes acting alone. That’s his concept of democratic leadership.
There was more to come. Our publicity-at-all-costs politician (too respectable a name, don’t you think?) could not keep out of the news. He had another quarrel, well, about a name.
He took issue with the Political Parties Forum – a body that brings together legally recognised political parties in the country. Apparently he did not like the name or what they did, or the fact that he was constitutionally bound to join the forum.
He preferred staying out of it, which would surely have made him an outlaw. In characteristic fashion, he shouted his dislike and protested being lumped together with respectable men and women whose job is to debate the forms of governace that should benefit all Rwandans. In the end he went in kicking and howling, but went in anyway.
Our man, you see, is an angry young man. Do not protest. He is not in the same league as the passionate young men who led an intellectual and literary movement in Europe after the second world war.
They had a cause. He has none. Or maybe he does, if destruction can be defined as such. Anger fits him well, and he wears it like a shirt.
It seems to be his nature. It would be difficult to imagine him otherwise. And to think this is the man who wants to lead the happy people of this country! All our joy would die in our hearts.
Soon the anger (at who? himself? the expression of bottled up hate?) put him at odds with lawmakers. Our good man was last week summoned to the senate committee on political affairs to clarify his utterances which were deemed to have been virulent.
Our man behaved to form. He was angry at the senators and refused to say anything about his utterances. The senators were bewildered. What was the cause of the anger?
They could not tell. But like the wise men that they are, they appealed to him to calm down and assured him that all they sought was clarification. All the appeals and assurances fell on deaf ears.
Or may be it was not his fault. An expert on hearing once told me that people who shout during a conversation have a hearing defect. They can’t hear well.
During the senate hearing (failed hearing, really) we saw another side of the man. He is not only caught in a time warp, but also stuck fast in an occupatioinal grove.
He kept asking the senators for time to study the accusations so that he can prepare his response. In subsequent media interviews he kept referring to a charge sheet. He is a lawyer, you see.
The habits of the court room have stuck, never mind that the senate is not a court, nor was he on trial. It is possible that he was trying to rename the august institution to fit his wishes.
We return to the question of names. Our man still has a thing for names. There is one which he is particularly fond of. At every possible opportunity he refers to MDR. He tells all, and some of the media carry it, that his party is suffering the same fate as MDR.
The reference is clear. PS Imberakuri is the successor to MDR. The connection is also clear. The new party is the home of ex-MDR members.
I wonder if our man has thought hard about what’s in a name and whether he would accept all associations with some names. Because it seems to me that MDR would, by any other name, still have the same spots and smell bad.