How Reyntjens continues to mislead the world on Rwanda

Editor, Allow me to react to the story; Belgian senator joins in condemning BBC film' published in Sunday Times, November 30 2014 Belgian scholar Filip Reyntjens recently published a book "Political Governance in Post-Genocide Rwanda" in which he overworks himself trying to divide up Rwanda into the Rwanda of "Bono, Pastor Rick Warren, Bill Clinton, Tony Blair "as well as most aid agencies" who are just a few of the "friends of the new Rwanda".
Anti-BBC demonstrators march to Parliament Buildings in Kigali where they presented their grievances. (File)
Anti-BBC demonstrators march to Parliament Buildings in Kigali where they presented their grievances. (File)

Editor,

Allow me to react to the story; Belgian senator joins in condemning BBC film’ published in Sunday Times, November 30 2014

Belgian scholar Filip Reyntjens recently published a book "Political Governance in Post-Genocide Rwanda" in which he overworks himself trying to divide up Rwanda into the Rwanda of "Bono, Pastor Rick Warren, Bill Clinton, Tony Blair "as well as most aid agencies" who are just a few of the "friends of the new Rwanda".

These, he says, are moved by "technocratic/bureaucratic" governance (whatever this means) economic progress, visionary leadership, reforms in agriculture, health, education, in women empowerment, market policies etc.

In his "expert imagination" he says these friends are also informed by the genocide credit (again whatever this means) Rwanda enjoys and by guilty feelings over international inaction in 1994.

He then says there is his perception of Rwanda, which focuses on political governance, denounces autocratic rule, gross human rights abuse, growing inequality and rural poverty, victimisation of the “Hutu majority" and injustice.

That is his Rwanda. Throughout the book he is clearly divisive, biased, vengeful, hopelessly out of touch with reality, contradictory, judgmental and short on evidence.

I must, however, admit his expertise at turning his personal perceptions into facts and evidence for his research.

Two issues stand out: he does his best to evade his personal role in pre Genocide Rwanda (I have not seen a publication where he clarifies his role) but his views on post-Genocide Rwanda clearly betray him.

But for the role Reyntjens's and others like him in architecture of pre and post independence Rwanda, the country's story would in all likelihood be radically different. Even the genocide would not have happened.

That it happened was due to their commissions and omissions. Senator Alain Destexhe has briefly but accurately stated Reyntjens's personal role.

The second issue is that because he carefully built the superstructure of Habyalimana' s regime, defended and justified it until 1992, he should be forgiven for not seeing autocracy, injustice, discrimination, rural poverty, human rights abuse, ethnicity politics, and emphasis of ethnicity as well as victimisation of Rwandans for their ethnicity all that time.

He was the intellectual and international defender of a regime which practiced these things. They were "ideals".

But having forgiven him, one thing remains outstanding: can he marshal the requisite intellectual and moral authority and honesty to talk with his head high on the direction Rwanda has taken over the last 20 years considering where it was and is today?

Given his historical role can he expect himself to make the about turn he is struggling to make?

Or to convince anybody that he has? My case is that Mr Reyntjens cannot possibly tell whether or not Rwanda is doing well or not, he lost that ground when he knowingly built Rwanda's pre-Genocide superstructure.

Hope, Nyamirambo