What does it benefit a man to gain a few crumbs and lose his country (and his soul)? This is a question that has been asked for a long time.
Despite the many answers to the question, some of them divine, people still put up their souls for auction. For most of this year, I have found myself pondering this question as I watched the actions of some Rwandans and listened to their pronouncements.
Treachery has been with us from the time power and control entered human social relations. Human beings have learnt to position themselves in ways which enhance their chances of exercising power and control over others.
They may do this through legitimate means of selling to the others their reason for occupying positions of power and influence. Where such legitimate means are lacking, they will use whatever means, including treachery, to achieve the same goals.
Treachery can be personal – the betrayal of a friend or colleague. Or it can be collective – the betrayal of a country and its people. Common to both of these is the betrayal of trust which had been willingly ceded by all parties for the realisation of mutual interests. For this reason, treachery is one of the most serious crimes.
People do not commit crimes unless they have a motive. This is also true with treachery, whether it is personal betrayal or treason. The motive may be greed (material gain) as in the case of Judas Iscariot and many who have since followed him, and they are legion. Whether trust can ever have adequate material or monetary equivalent obviously never enters the calculations of traitors.
The motive can be unbridled ambition in which an individual has an oversized sense of his own worth. Unchecked ambition, especially if accompanied by singular belief in its attainability whether through perceived personal qualities or the instigation of others, invariably leads to betrayal.
But more than that, it may lead one to break all moral boundaries in order to realise it. The existence of such ambition in a person makes it easy for skilful handlers to manipulate him at will. Shakespeare has given us a wonderful example of the evil and folly of blind ambition in Macbeth in the play of the same name.
In other instances, the motive for treachery can be a result of spite or malice where an individual knowingly betrays the trust of another as a way of getting his own back at what he sees as wrongs done to him.
The “wrong” may actually have been dismissal for incompetence, corruption or other criminal offence. Again we have a splendid example of such character in Iago in Shakespeare’s play, Othello.
Rwandan so-called critics of the government, who also pass themselves off as alternatives to the president, share the above characteristics.
Listening to Theogene Rudasingwa, one asks the question: can a person who has occupied positions of trust at the highest level in the government of Rwanda be such a turncoat? It is baffling to most ordinary folk. Not to those who know him well, though. For them, it is not surprising. He has always been a turncoat. Perhaps the relevant question is: will he ever stop turning?
Whether he will stop or not, his constant turning says a lot about him. It points to an inherent instability. Also, it shows he has put himself up for sale. The price he will get – financial support for his Haradali NGO (actually for himself) and building his profile– comes with conditions.
He must drag his country in the dirt. He must believe that Rwandans have distinct, irreconcilable and immutable identities. He has to smear the president, elected by an overwhelming majority, with mud. He must subscribe to the definition of a political and democratic majority in ethnic terms.
Finally, as proof he accepts the conditions of sale, he has to go on radio and TV to announce his allegiance. That is what he did on Wednesday, August 18 on Voice of America.
In short, Dr Rudasingwa must repudiate morality, truth, all notion of common decency, things he knows to be correct, and above all his conscience. His soul has been replaced by greed and an oversized ego.
Then there are the other two, Patrick Karegeya and Kayumba Nyamwasa. One, a disgraced officer, calls for war on his homeland and the overthrow of an elected president. Treason! The other, no better, has actually fired shots in that war. Both have also occupied positions of trust.
Karegeya’s disregard for legally established authority is not new. His willingness to commit treason is also not new. It has been said many times that he probably worked for foreign interests even as he served in the government of Rwanda.
That he, and his associates, are working for those interests today is not in doubt. Again what is the price? A massage for a bloated ego and pieces of silver.
There is a pattern to the treasonable acts of these individuals. Their individual criticism of the government of Rwanda is done in concert – whether it is a call to war by Karegeya, vilification of the president by Kayumba and Rudasingwa, and their cooperation with known genocidaires and terrorist groups.
It is not a coincidence that Karegeya and Rudasingwa became vocal after Kayumba fled and fired the first salvo. It is no coincidence that their increased activity comes in the wake of grenade attacks in Rwanda.
It is not by chance that their increased media activity followed heightened attacks by some sections of the media and rights groups, and genocide deniers.
They may do well to remember, however, that no one who has ever pawned his soul has been able to redeem it. Few people ever find fulfilment in their treachery.
Indeed many of them end badly. Judas was so ashamed of having betrayed an innocent man that he could not live with himself. Rudasingwa, Kayumba and co will soon discover that the path to perfidy is perilous and inevitably leads to perdition.