By the time you read this piece, the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice may have finished the motions of giving its controversial award to Paul Rusesabagina, a former hotel worker and later taxi driver, who has been trading in a controversial story of how he passed his time during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Increasingly, many who are not privy to what transpired at the Mille Collines Hotel from April to July 1994 have been made aware, that what they watched in the film Hotel Rwanda was based on a false-self promotion account.
Subsequent to the film, the man has wasted no time or effort in milking the story of the Genocide against the Tutsi. Some of the do-gooders from the West have been told a classic horror story on which they have based their activism and fundraising campaigns.
In Rusesabagina, they gullibly see a “brother’s keeper”. As such, they avail him a platform where he sells his contested story, and knowingly or unknowingly, help to perpetuate a false narrative.
In a case where someone says one thing in Europe and North America and does the opposite, where he comes from, supporting and financing a terror outfit, those who give him succor, need to re-evaluate their methods.
The story of the Rwandan peoples’ struggle for their freedom is well known. That struggle produced heroes and of course villains. They are all known. Many of the villains are in hiding, living as fugitives; while others are serving time for their crimes.
However, what is humbling is the choices the many heroes, then organised under the Rwandese Patriotic Army, have made. Individually and collectively, many actions of heroism during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi are attributed to them, with unequivocal evidence to back their actions. But they neither seek to profiteer from such stories, nor do they claim a sense of entitlement as a result.
These are people, who after saving many lives under stressful circumstances, and having witnessed horrible crimes, were able to restrain themselves from carrying out vengeance.
Anyway, the point here is: what is in it for these institutions and individuals, who out there, continue to support and help propagate a story as controversial and increasingly debunked as Rusesabagina’s narrative?
Well, we have seen in recent years, the length western lobbyists are willing to go to push their interests. It is naïve to think that all who cloth themselves in the garb of human rights activists, humanitarians etc, are what they say they are.
The convergence of human rights groups, lobbyists and multinationals, to push their interests is becoming more apparent as the struggle for influence goes to a higher level.
To that mix, increasingly, is the addition of soldiers of fortune that are becoming more visible in conflict areas on the African continent.
These interest groups create “heroes” of other kind of public faces of different causes, whom they hope can become reputable internationally renowned individuals. Such characters have what passes for native credentials in countries where they come from or some credentials are attributed to them falsely.
In such places, it always turns out that these interest groups have an ongoing role or envisage one.
However, as is always the case in such scenarios, these groups, later realise their own folly. Sometimes, it is too late. The most compelling story is that of Ahmed Chalabi, who was seen as the future of Iraq.
Later, it would be realised that he had for so long sold a tall tale, that they could have uncovered earlier had they been cautious enough. At the end of it all, this crusade that the Lantos Foundation has jumped on, will unravel like all false narratives we have seen.