Of condescending visitors and plain lies

I have a major gripe that I feel I must express because if I don’t, I shall surely explode in frustration. More often that not, whenever I meet an English-speaking foreigner the first thing I hear is “you speak so well, are you Rwandan”?

I have a major gripe that I feel I must express because if I don’t, I shall surely explode in frustration. More often that not, whenever I meet an English-speaking foreigner the first thing I hear is “you speak so well, are you Rwandan”?

I’m usually patient enough not to make any rude remarks but a few weeks back a friend of mine, who funny enough is a foreigner who’s lived in Rwanda for four years, actually almost snapped. She felt that the question was not totally innocent; and if it was, then not very well thought through.

It reminds me of the remark Joe Biden, then Senator from Delaware and Democratic Party candidate in the 2008 Primaries said about Barack Obama. He called him an “African-American who is articulate and bright and clean “. While I won’t pretend to be anywhere close to being Obama-nesque in intellect or anything of the sort, I believe I’ve been treated like that.

I feel there’s a certain attitude which I call ‘I have come to save the Africans’, which many visitors to our Continent have. When one happens to be intelligence and articulate then automatically you aren’t ‘African’ enough or, in my case, Rwandan enough. It’s as if we have to remain ‘noble savages’ for eternity.

I won’t call people like these racist, but I’m sorely tempted to. Preconceived notions of what Africa, and what Africans are like sadden me. The attitude of some of the people who’ve come to ‘save us’ is nothing less than bloodcurdling. I can remember one young lady saying, with all seriousness, that she was the only person in the country who could do the job she was doing.

She wasn’t a Molecular Chemistry PhD but rather someone who was merely supervising the building of a clinic in rural Eastern Province.

The President has long spoken about the need to reclaim our pride by doing away with aid; I must say that I’m 100% with him on that. That’s the only reason we are so under-looked. The next time I hear someone say “you speak so well”, I’ll retort “am I supposed to be wearing loincloth, carrying a spear and speaking gibberish”?

I recently read an article on Global Post (www.globalpost.com) written by Christian Davenport  a professor of peace studies, political science and sociology at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame.

The article titled “Leaked UN report gives critical view of Paul Kagame” was published September 19, 2010. While I had a few issues with the entire article, I want to talk about a common misconception that many anti-Rwanda pundits have rehashed over and over again.

To quote the professor, he says that …“It is a largely overlooked fact that the then-rebel Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), which essentially became the current government, illegally invaded a sovereign nation. At that time, there was no genocide in Rwanda, only ethnic discrimination with a low level of violence”. 

Now I might not be an expert at international law, but to say that refugees ‘illegally’ invaded their own homeland is rather silly. I guess Mr. Davenport is of the school that believes that the RPF/A was just a splinter group of the Ugandan NRM/A.

I can’t really reason with him if he believes that truly. However, if he knows better (and I believe he does) then he’s simply foolish.

The RPF/A was composed of Rwandans who’d been forced to leave their home because of the political travails the country went through. They never renounced their citizenship and therefore had every right to reclaim their rights through any means they could.

sunnyntayombya@newtimes.co.rw

 

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