And so the western ‘godfathers’ are at it again, and not surprisingly, for all the wrong reasons. There is this Kinyarwanda adage which questions the motives of anybody who pretends to love someone’s child than the real parents.
It therefore raises suspicion when we start to hear UN agencies and other western-based ‘humanitarian’ organizations questioning the appropriateness of Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) decision to launch attacks – within its own territory – against extremist elements whose hands are stained with the blood of the over a million innocent victims of the 1994 Tutsi Genocide in Rwanda.
That the Congolese government has struck a deal with Kigali for the latter to contribute towards this disarmament campaign under the nose of the unproductive UN force (MONUC) and opportunist western-leaning groups, is a pride to Africa, and gives hope to hundreds of thousands of Congolese civilians who have long endured despicable suffering at the hands of this genocidal group – Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).
Surely, the ‘concern’ that the DRC-Rwanda joint operation against the FDLR is likely to spark a humanitarian crisis is nothing but sour grapes. It demonstrates how the west has taken the plight of Africans for granted.
FDLR is an illegal occupant on Congolese soil; they kill, maim and rape innocent Congolese; levy illegal taxes; loot house-holds; plunder Congo’s resources.
They have virtually created a ‘nation’ where human rights remain taboo inside Africa’s third largest country for the past fourteen years.
This state-of-affairs has become ‘normal’ in the eyes of many in the west. They have promoted a form of banditry disguised as humanitarianism to the extent that even MONUC peace-keepers could exchange their firearms for gold with the FDLR fighters.
It’s a typical ‘Africans-don’t-matter’ attitude. That explains why they are getting worried that President Joseph Kabila is committed to end the FDLR problem. They find the offensive a major threat to their justification for billions of taxpayers’ dollars spent on these African safari’s or ‘honeymoon’ missions.
While the success of this mission will no doubt excite all peace-loving Rwandans and Congolese alike and Africans in general, it will expectedly not auger well with many former colonialists who – to use Barack Obama’s words – “have failed to understand that the ground has shifted beneath them.”
They are refusing to come to terms with the fact that there is a new breed of African men and women who are out to craft a future for their continent; a future that befits Africa’s present and future generations, and not one that dances to the tunes of those in western capitals.
The other day I met this so-called economic expert from Europe in a technical meeting to discuss one of Rwanda’s development programmes.
True, it was a debate, but what baffled me is that he arrogantly said of how it his job is to criticize the Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS), openly undermining the country’s vision. One of his concerns was that the aspirations therein are unachievable.
But when a colleague of mine challenged him that Singapore was 30 years ago probably poorer than what Rwanda is today, and that China was no economically better a few decades ago, he swallowed his words.
In short, all this was about his and his employers’ superiority complex. There is this fallacy in some westerns that Africa cannot do anything right on its own without their blessing.
Many now tie their influence to the development support they give to Africa. But it is increasingly becoming clear to them that such a strategy can never be durable. The DR Congo-Rwanda resolute decision attests to this.
In my previous opinion in this newspaper I hinted on a number of Rwandan home-grown initiatives that have turned out to be success stories. The list is so long, starting from 1990’s when President Paul Kagame’s Rwanda Patriotic Front refused to share the indifference of the international community and single-handedly stopped the Genocide.
That marked the beginning of a new era, and Rwandans will go down in history books as having been among the first Africans to reap from a leadership that does what suits its people, and not what is dictated by a remote control from a western capital.
Back to the FLDR issue: International efforts to end this problem are as old as the group itself. There have been countless meetings over this rebel group: from Pretoria, to Lusaka, Nairobi, Saint Egidio, to New York and Washington; and the message has been the same. In each of these meetings, Kinshasa was asked – and it always agreed – to disarm and expel to Rwanda FDLR fighters, with the help of the international community, particularly MONUC.
This never came to pass, and instead, the FDLR continued to hold its grip on the territories it occupies at the expense of civilians’ lives and liberties. Kabila’s government has all the rights to partner with anyone willing to offer genuine support to bring to an end sleepless nights endured by his people.
In fact, DRC has previously joined hands with Uganda and Sudan to fight Uganda’s notorious LRA rebels.
It is an open secret that MONUC has long abandoned its original mission, preferring to go commercial in this mineral-rich nation.
And no doubt, their commanders are praying restlessly that the Rwanda-Congo joint campaign fails so they can further their business interests.
DR Congo needs full support in this initiative other than prophesies of doom.
The author is Rwanda Workforce Development Authority (WDA) Marketing & Communication Specialist.