A piece of news was published in this publication which, I believe, was not highlighted enough. To paraphrase the Good Book, “the piece of news that could have best represented what Rwanda is all about was ignored, and not made the foundation stone a.k.a the lead story”.
One had to go all the way to page four to read something that I absolutely find fascinating. The ‘screaming’ headline was “EU chief clarifies on election observer mission”.
The head of delegation of the European Union, Michel Arrion, said that his organisation would not send observers to Rwanda during the presidential polls next month because of limited financial resources.
That reason totally made sense; the Greek and Spanish financial crisis has made the EU less willing to fund each and everything they choose to. Again, this makes total sense to me. I mean, one takes care of his own before becoming the benefactor of all and sundry.
Mr. Arrion explained the EU decision saying“we fixed the priorities to make sure that there’s a balance in Africa and we decided eight priority countries in Africa, and Rwanda did not come on our priority list. If you missed it, let me reiterate. “Rwanda did not come on our priority list”.
What did he mean by priority list? I will hazard a guess and say that the ‘priority’ nations were the ones’ that couldn’t hold a credible election even if they tried. Therefore, the EU observers’ job was to make sure that these countries made a proper go at it, and when they failed, the EU bureaucrats would write long exposes on how certain countries are too immature to hold credible elections.
So, in my rather unschooled logic, I guess that the EU took stock of the Rwandan situation and decided that we would do alright on our own. While I could rail against the arrogance that presumes that we Africans cannot do a single thing correctly without Big Brother watching over our shoulder, I will hold fire and go back to that topic when, and if, I ever have to.
Instead of looking at the different incidents that occurred over the past few months as unfortunate occurrences, the majority of the foreign press along with their unnamed ‘Rwanda experts’ chose to tar the country with a brush that made it seem like we were on the verge of implosion.
This weekend I watched as a friend of mine had to, patiently, explain that there wasn’t a mob in front of her door waiting to pounce. I never realized just how misunderstood Rwanda was until I heard her try to explain that the tragic death of the unregistered Green Party official, Andre Kagwa Rwisereka, would not cause a ‘peasant’ uprising.
How is it possible that it came to this? How have lies been allowed to spread in such a viral manner that well-read people in London can’t tell the truth even if it hit them on the backside?
Are there some evil conspirators in high places that wish the worst for us? Would the world blame us if we, paranoid though it might seem, thought so?
I want to do my bit for equity’s sake. I want to highlight this story that I believe wasn’t properly analyzed. It seems to me that ever since I could comprehend the electoral process in Africa the presence of foreign election observers from either the EU or the Carter Centre has become such a ubiquitous presence that it is almost unfathomable for me to imagine elections without elderly white men and women walking about, wearing khaki with knapsacks hanging over their shoulders.
I had become brainwashed. The concept of an election without some people telling us whether ‘we did good’ was foreign.
I want to thank personally, the bureaucrats in Brussels for showing us Rwandans just how far we’ve come. From a country that was called a ‘no-hoper’, to one that isn’t an EU election ‘priority’ is quite a jump in only sixteen years.
The fact that there is acknowledgment of our progress, despite the condensing tone of it all, should give us more confidence in ourselves and our institutions. After all, the EU didn’t get us where we are today, we did.