Sometimes the condescending, overbearing and patronising attitude to Rwanda of some foreign ‘experts’, ‘observers’, ‘human rights activists’ and a cabal of other such self-appointed agents can be confounding!
How come none of them shows his/her face when a country is going down the drain? Did these ‘humanitarians’ exist when colonialists were tearing up Rwanda of the early 1900s?
Where were they between 1959 and 1994, for 35 long years, when a section of Rwandans were being killed, banished or, if not banished, stripped of all the rights of a citizen? Surely, it beats reason.
I remember the hubbub when the “collaborator” to the head of the yet-to-be-registered FDU (Forces Démocratiques Unifiées du Rwanda)-Inkingi was first held for questioning. The ‘activists’ went up in arms to protect their opposition “leader” but suddenly went silent when Joseph Ntawangundi confessed to his genocide crimes.
Did any of them apologise for wrongly accusing the government of Rwanda of denying “freedom of expression” to their “genuine opposition leader”?
Not a chance. Instead, they went on to concentrate on fighting for “the freedoms” of his senior, FDU’s Ingabire Victoire Umuhoza (no, no initials!).
However, shouldn’t that have given a lesson to our activists about these characters that they champion as flag-bearers of “genuine opposition parties”?
Even without considering that, if these activists sincerely have the concerns of Rwandans at heart, they should check out the credentials of these self-proclaimed opposition leaders.
If you want to speak for the rights of Rwandans, it is imperative that you understand what is good for them.
In fact, you don’t have to be an expert on the country to understand that it was plunged into the 1994 genocide because of its history of “political hooliganism”, as President Kagame says.
Even during colonial rule, the interest of the leaders of Rwanda was their self-perpetuation rather than concern for the welfare of Rwandans. That is how the colonialists opted for the ‘divide-and-rule’ policy – a united community of Rwandans spelt short life for them.
Examples abound of communities which were practically wiped out for posing the danger of being united.
In Africa of the time, most communities were united under monarchical systems and that is why kingdoms of the time were treated with ruthless ferocity. Uganda’s Bunyoro kingdom immediately comes to mind.
In Rwanda, subsequent regimes after colonialism sought to add another chapter in the ethnic-division book.
The Kayibanda regime immediately after colonialism set out to kill and banish a section of Rwandans, while the Habyarimana regime after Kayibanda saw it better to completely wipe them out.
So, when an alternative force rises out of those long persecuted Rwandans and puts the country back on the road to sanity, the least contribution any concerned observer can give is support to that force.
That is the force that put an end to genocide, and is personified by the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). This is the same force that has put government in place that answers to aspirations of a united people, Banyarwanda.
Any other force that comes in the name of ethnic-division politics, whatever sugar-coated garb it is dressed in, must be fought by all who care about Rwanda.
The politics of division and anarchy is, indeed, “political hooliganism” and Rwandans have seen it before and don’t want to tread that route again.
What is “a tight ship” when every Munyarwanda is involved in working with government to deliver basic services and uplift the welfare and economic status of all compatriots?
In a country where once some Rwandans were denied any right due to their ethnic label, now no one can claim any ethnic superiority rights. Surely, it is perverse to see that as “autocratic rule”!
A people who are working tirelessly to get access to electricity, clean water; to improve their infrastructure; to attract tourists; to create a real service sector; to build schools, hospitals and multiply dispensaries is not a “tightly-controlled” people to me.
No one has denied that there is poverty; that tiny plots of land don’t speak to improved farm productivity; that the raging population rate is bad for fast growth; that malnourishment still exists.
However, the cure for these ills lies in persevering and continuing the search for their cure, not in despairing and turning to “political hooligans” for rescue.
When all is said and done, of course, Rwandans draw comfort from the fact that these foreign “experts” are only a small minority and that a much bigger constituency of foreign countries, organisations and individuals has been, and still remains, firmly behind Rwandans.
The road to a middle-class economy may be long in coming, but who’d have guessed that Rwanda would be where it is today?
Friends and well-wishers have been watching Rwanda’s fast-paced recovery with satisfaction and a few negative observers and disgruntled nationals should not unnecessarily consume anybody’s attention.
“Political hooliganism” has been here and is not likely to go anywhere any time soon.
Yet, as the Kinyarwanda saying goes, “The big eyes of a frog have never stopped cattle from enjoying their drink”!