Faustin Twagiramungu was on the BBC ‘Imvo n’Imvano’ programme last 2nd September 2011 and showed he still talks in the vein of “Ariko Murasetsa!” Remember, during his short stint as Rwandan prime minister, and in 2003 as presidential candidate, he made you wonder if he was talking about his own country.
You’ll recall that every time he was asked to react to any incident in the country as PM or to his defeat as the presidential candidate in 2003, he used to grunt “Ariko Murasetsa!” and keep mum. It’s only one time when he followed it up with “You mean my people could refuse to vote for me?” about the polls that people got a hint of what he meant. He was not talking about his Rwandan followers as a candidate.
We had followed his campaigns and we knew that, all through those campaigns, he never articulated a single policy that he’d initiate once in power. Rather, he centred his effort on “reminding” the electorate that the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) – which was seeking another term – was forcing itself on them, as if it was a fact they’d forgotten. This was delivered in vague insinuations but with eloquent rhetoric, even if he had not established the truth of this stated “fact”.
At every campaign, he capped his address with: “My people! Talk with your mouths but vote with your hearts!” The thinly veiled message was that the electorate should praise the RPF but listen to their sentiments of kinship. Underlying that, however, was the even more potent message that RPF members were foreigners. He knew this not to be true, of course, but his politics was not about stating facts.
When “My people!” did not vote him in power, it was the same explanation: “Ariko murasetsa!” As before, the message was that it was a joke to think that he could lose at the polls, since “My people!” could identify with him only. And if he could not lose, it should be clear that the electorate had been coerced into voting for the triumphant RPF candidate.
Unfortunately, we never got a chance to call his bluff again. At the 2010 elections, he decided not to test “My people!” However, there is the BBC ‘Gahuza Miryango’ Kirundi/Kinyarwanda programme to which he seems to have transferred his regular expression. And hence, his restored delight to impress. To impress emotions and nothing but.
Last 2nd September, he was hosted with two other panellists to discuss the situation in Libya. But while the other two panellists stuck to the topic under discussion, Twagiramungu wandered off to Rwanda even before he could mention the name ‘Libya’. How, he wondered, could the leadership in Rwanda denounce Kaddafi as if their leadership itself was “shyashya”? “In Rwanda”, said he, “they are recounting fairytales during daylight!”
By not being “shyashya”, I suppose Faustin meant that Rwanda was no better than Libya. And for the “fairytales” expression, apart from enjoying its sound, I didn’t get its exact meaning either. Maybe he meant that the Rwandan leadership was deluding itself. Did he mean that conditions in Rwanda were similar to those in Libya, without the leadership knowing?
I listened patiently to get the explanation of how Rwanda was no better than Libya but, alas, none was forthcoming. Instead, he delved into how “some people from his homeland” accept to be received with red carpets in the West, without considering that “ingoma zihindura imirishyo” (literally, ‘drums change drumsticks/drummers’). In other words, our leaders do not remember that “Governments change”. Well, again I didn’t get the link between change of governments and the killing of innocent citizens by Kaddafi but, in any case, I did not expect it.
So, déjà vu. Unfortunately, like him, many who masquerade as Rwandan opposition politicians rely on their mastery of the garb to say nothing, only appealing to emotions to mask their political bankruptcy. Those who are not blessed with such a gift resort to fanning up ethnic sentiments by directing course, abusive language to government leaders. For being consumed by this brand of opposition politics, all our opposition politicians are incapable of analysing and interpreting developments in any country.
And, worse still, they seem incapable of gauging the pulse of “My people”; of seeking to learn from the populace, in case any change has touched it. Since they all necessarily turn opposition after falling foul of government and fleeing, they are losing touch with the reality in their abandoned home. Those who take the opposite route, from exile home, never take the time to ‘really touch base’; to understand their reclaimed home. As a result, all are unable to wake up to the reality that “My people” are no longer the people they knew.
Today, Rwandans are their own people. They can no longer accept to be pegged onto self-seeking individuals who have nothing to offer that can ensure a better future. Rwanda is no longer for politicians who seek to curve the masses into antagonistic constituencies of favoured majorities and marginalised minorities, the better to rule them.
Opposition, talk the politics of unity and progress or forever hold your peace.