You may call it arrogance, racism or snobbery. There surely is something wrong in the attitude by a number of western publics towards African people and their governments. And this is not something new.
To get an idea of this unfortunate phenomenon, look up John Hannning Speke’s Journal of the Discovery of the Nile.
Writing in the 19th century after his journey of exploration in Africa, Speke claims to have discovered some civilized tribes in the midst of African savages. The few civilized tribes, Speke claims, were descendants of the white race who got lost in Africa.
The moral of Speke’s story is that nothing good can come out of Africa. Subsequent researchers have discredited Speke’s thesis but unfortunately the harm has already been done.
At the height of the 1959 anti-Tutsi pogroms, the Belgian colonial masters described the pro-independence UNAR party as both communist and monarchical at the same time. What an absurd contradiction! Even when a visiting UN mission concluded that a Tutsi genocide was underway in Rwanda, the west-dominated UN Security council glossed over the issue as if African lives did not matter.
Fast forward to 1994. An extremist Hutu regime, trained and funded by sections of the so-called civilized world butchers over one million innocent Tutsi as the world looks on. Moral? Let the savage African tribes kill one another for they know not any better! Contrast this with the response to the Yugoslav crisis a few years earlier! If that is not racism then what is?
Then comes the 2010 elections. The campaigning period and the balloting both unequivocally demonstrate the people’s overwhelming support for the RPF party and its flag bearer Paul Kagame. Yet, unashamedly, sections of the western world, in their characteristic neocolonial arrogance, dismiss the whole thing as manipulation.
There have even been some arrogant voices calling for suspension of western financial support to Rwanda as punishment for imagined sins.
One of the sins alleged by our arrogant detractors is that two political parties, PS- Imberakuri and FDU-Inkingi of one Victoire Ingabire were not allowed to contest in the just-concluded presidential elections.
But who does not know that in the so-called civilized world, some political parties like the Communist Party and organizations like the Ku Klux Klan have long been barred from campaigning and contesting for presidency?
If the racist Ku Klux Klan is bad in one country why should the genocidal FDU-Inkingi party be welcome in another?
Today, it’s widely acknowledged that the US is an icon of a democratic polity. Yet few care to find out how this came about. What would have happened if the slave-owning confederates of the South had been allowed to dominate American politics?
Fortunately, Abraham Lincoln led the political and military campaign to defeat the confederates and discredit their reactionary ideology. Why then should the current Rwanda government abdicate its historical mission of defeating reactionary political organizations and discrediting their genocide ideologies?
One could go on and on citing examples of colonial arrogance and hypocrisy in relation to African people and their leaders. It’s time all peace-loving and patriotic Africans rose up in unison and, with their heads held high, proclaim “Never Again” to neo-colonial arrogance.
The author is a researcher