In Rwanda, the vuvuzelas are out now.
A friend said that Rwandans are normally a reticent lot and I couldn’t agree more. That is why it is amazing how they’ve come out in unprecedented force to ‘noisily cheer’, as opposed to ‘quietly murder’ (if you remember the 1994 genocide).
Rwanda is firmly in the grip of election fever and practically every single Rwandan is out to campaign for any of their four presidential candidates. The four corners of the country seem to be scenes of mayhem – peaceful, organised mayhem! – as candidates fan out to the countryside to canvass for votes.
Indeed, on observation, you realise Rwandans have undergone a truly fundamental change.
Where, if ever they came out to chant, it was brandishing machetes to the chant of “Hutu Power!”, today you can’t tell who is backing a Muhutu candidate or who, a Mututsi one. Batwa, Batutsi and Bahutu are out to sing the objectives of their parties’ manifestos, whatever the label of their candidate.
Rwanda is so changed that you get embarrassed when you read reports on it from some foreign correspondents, observers, analysts, researchers, experts or whatever fashionable title they like to adorn. Interestingly, none of them likes specialising in the ‘expertise’ of their own countries.
Of course, this should not be taken as a generalisation, because I know there are many level-headed observers and analysts of Africa, and Rwanda in particular, whose opinion is valued by many. I am only riled by the haughty know-alls who do not take care to get a thorough understanding of the objects of their abusive ‘analysis’.
It is saddening, for instance, to see a highly regarded man like Gwynne Dyer, whose writing I’ve enjoyed for practically all of my literate life, joining the melee of those spewing hogwash on Rwanda.
I doubt the man can point out Rwanda on the map, but the fact alone that he is journalist, “syndicated columnist” and “military historian” (whatever those may be!) qualifies him to be an expert on Rwanda.
Frankly, to hear that there is a feud between Banyiginya and Bega generals is completely beyond me. Many Rwandans are aware of their ethnic label tags, sure. But, as Pascal Gahamanyi says, how many Rwandans today can tell their clan? If even I, of the 1950s, cannot tell, imagine our young generals!
However, he had to join in so as not to be outdone by a “foreign editor at ‘The Observer’” known as Peter Beaumont. To this Beaumont, reporters on Rwanda are “media opponents of the Tutsi general”. Presumably, these reporters don’t set out to give stories on Rwanda, they set out to fight “Tutsi generals”!
Having “foreign” in his title, Beaumont, writing for ‘The Guardian’, can “expertly” report that the unfortunate loss of Rwandan lives recently is not exactly that. It is a “sinister development” that involves a “campaign of murder and intimidation before elections”.
In a bizarre stretch of imagination, he even puts the death of a Tanzanian lawyer (Jwani Mwaikusa), in Dar es Salaam, at the doorstep of Rwandan authorities. It is a wonder that Beaumont is not in hiding, since nowhere seems to be too far for these “Tutsi generals”!
But, “syndicated” or “foreign”, the two above cannot out-sing a certain “investigative environmental and political writer”. Giorgianne Nienaber, writing for the online OpEd News, wonders “how far the United States will tolerate [what is happening]..…in Rwanda.”
At first I thought she was talking about her rural home area in South Florida, USA. But no, she is “a friend of the Rwandan people”, she avers, and cannot stand our situation. So, Nienaber wants President Obama to come and put our leaders’ “feet to the fire” so that we can be saved.
Good lady, does she know us, the poor Rwandans she wants saved? No sir, but she was in Rwanda for a few months in 2007 and has written articles which have appeared in many newspapers, including our very own ‘New Times’. She is even the author of fictions, among them ‘Gorilla Dreams’, if you think she is no expert.
It makes you wonder, what is hyping up these characters, and multitudinous others, and throwing them into this frenzy? Admittedly, the temperatures of election heat are on an unparalleled high. But isn’t that expected in competitive politics, at election time?
Seeing that the country took everyone by surprise by fast hurtling into the most heinous Genocide this side of the century, when on the surface everything had looked serene, everybody is falling over themselves to be the first to correctly predict the future of Rwanda.
That is why every “analyst” worth his/her “foreign study” is competing to show this is not competitive politics. What you see in Rwanda is not what is, they are telling us, because no one ever guessed that Genocide was going to break out.
No one, that is, except Rwandans. Only Rwandans knew Genocide was coming and they called for international intervention. It was not forthcoming and they got the revelation: only they could stop it. And they did. Now the same Rwandans are saying the election will be peaceful and the country is on the right path.
Still, the “media experts” are digging deep into the history of Rwanda to show that the true character of Rwanda is of competition for chaos and domination: an individual over other individuals, a clan over other clans or an ethnic group over other ethnic groups.
Rwandans, pay no heed. A united, prosperous and democratic Rwanda is in sight.
Let the barking not interrupt the motion of the train of a re-united people!