Rwanda has been in the news for various reasons. But what struck me most, is how some sections of the International media have attempted to portray the
country as undemocratic through their articles, opinions and slanted news.
The lack of objectivity proves that the authors have never bothered to verify their stories and are only talking to detractors who are determined to peddle
To understand how this “undemocratic” rhetoric has managed to find its way into the media, I will take you back 5 decades.
For the last fifty years, colonialists have pushed to have African countries adopt their version of democracy. Despite relinquishing power, and giving the
African states independence, the Western powers have used all means to push their agenda, even if it calls for the use of force.
However, after bad experience with colonialism, Africans as independent people became sensitive and weary, slowly opting to form representative governments,
which took into account the opinions and needs of the people they represented.
Unfortunately, that did not work out. With power, the colonialists influenced their type of “democracy” - one that was conceived outside the continent, and imposed in a way that the interests of the colonialists were protected.
The leaders were selected based on their willingness to listen to the colonial masters. In countries, colonised by the French, the leaders had to be in position to guard the economic interests of their masters, and it turn, got protection and close ties to Paris.
To sustain this style, any leader who attempted to promote the interests of the people would disappear or ended up dead.
This went on for a while especially in countries north of the equator.
One of colonial powers, officially had a department within its government, whose role was to choose the leaders of its former colonies, direct their policy and replace them when necessary. Replacement of the leaders was either by a controlled election, or an organised coup d’ Etat, depending on the situation.
Aware of the fragility of this artificial and imposed democracy, the colonial power was obliged to establish military bases in some African strategic capitals, to ensure the stability of these undemocratically regimes.
Under such conditions, it was impossible for Africans to organize their own elections and have the leaders of their choice.
How would you expect a country to be democratic, when it was deprived of the freedom to choose its leaders?
And, when African leaders challenged this manipulation, they became targets of what appears to be a concerted and joint attack from a section of the media,
civil society oganisations and even human rights organizations.
Of course, when the attack is from such organisations, the case is portrayed as legitimate.
At times, there is complicity with the Western governments, who use these advocacy organisations to advance their agenda.
This relationship is by no means accidental and what makes matters worse, is when you trace the source of funding for these organisations.
But this attitude and way of doing things must change.
African states should not consume the Western style of doing things. It’s high time Africa is perceived according to its context.
Africa is no longer the single territory inhabited by a homogeneous population, who are embroiled in conflict, hunger and famine.
There is without doubt a lot of good that comes out of Africa.
For example, when in France, a President wins an election by 51%, it is a victory with a crushing majority, allowing him to constitute a government without
any single minister from the opposition.
But for many African countries, the 49% which lost the election gets represented in cabinet.
The principle is that the majority does not have the right to impose themselves over the minority, however small it is. And, when it does, the effect can be deadly.
Rwanda is a typical case in point of how disastrous imposing a western style of democracy can be.
During Rwanda’s independence, the colonial power supported what they referred to as a revolution to abolish a monarchy and facilitate a “democratization’
The first government, after independence, organised ethnic cleansing.
The second government, that came into power after a coup d’etat, in 1973, was not any different. It promoted ethnic discrimination, the President’s home town
was prioritised in terms of development, and this divisive politics culminated to the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
It is astonishing that the current government, which stopped the genocide, allows other political parties, is inclusive and has spearheaded unity,
reconciliation and registered remarkable progress and development has become a target of a smear campaign by those who turned a blind eye when the country
was falling apart 17 years ago.
Experience is the best teacher and Rwandans have established their own democracy that works for them and no one else.
Rwanda is rich in tradition, value and culture. These elements have been drawn upon to create the suitable governance style that gives the people dignity and
What the Rwandan people decide should be accepted and respected.
So far, it is working and the results are there for all to see.
Indeed, the country has become a victim of opening up and success, but that will not slow the progress.