When you think you are going to talk about something sane, this Google alert hurls up into your face another of these stories on Rwanda so outlandish that you are stunned! This time the story is from an American, Wil Robinson, writing for the online “internationalpoliticalwill”. Robinson opens with a shocking: “It’s noticeable as soon as you cross the border. A palpable anxiety, hanging in the air over the country: a sense of apprehension.” And before you understand how he perceived that “anxiety…. in the air”, he continues: “Rwanda feels like it’s trying to enjoy a brief respite from violence, knowing that a similar future is inevitable.” You pause to look around, to see if this character is talking about the Rwanda that you see around you. Surely, the self-proclaimed soothsayers of the “bleak” future of this country, do they know something that we don’t? It would not matter much if they were the known few Rwanda-hating hardliners. Unfortunately, these prophets of doom are a dime a dozen and, on the globe, they are sprouting by leaps and bounds. And so, considering their big number and the heavy baggage of mal-predictions they have on offer for us, we cannot dismiss them off hand. Fortunately, we have the facts. For instance, it is true that the country is enjoying unprecedented stability.
For the first time, security of person and property is assured to anybody resident in Rwanda without considering colour, creed, clan, civility or conviction. The country is at peace with itself and its neighbours, now including even D.R. Congo. It is upon this bedrock, security that is unmatched in the region, that overall development has been premised. Today, the economy continues to post an impressive average growth of 9%. After only fifteen years, the remarkable economic progress registered has continued to amaze visitors who knew Rwanda before 1994. That is why calling Wil Robinson a prophet of doom is not unjustified. He says: “Pushed to the brink by unsustainable land use and overpopulation, they [Rwandans] have done little to address the problem.” This, surely, is attempting to pour cold water on the concerted efforts of the country’s land commission. Only recently, Rwanda received accolades from the International Land Coalition. Dr. Michael Taylor, manager of the programme, rated Rwanda’s land policy reforms as “the best on the African continent.” Considering the modernisation crusade of agriculture that government has embarked on, Rwandans should be able to make optimum use of their land in the not too distant future.
However, it is not for the likes of Robinson to check out these easily available facts and they will continue to lump statements in their un-researched articles, without batting an eyelid. He thus lapses into the all too familiar “authoritarian rule” and “media crackdown” songs as composed by fugitive génocidaires in foreign capitals. Only he goes one hideous step further, by equating the press in Rwanda today to the “Hutu Power Radio” because, he states, it is “filled with pro-RPF, pro-Rwandan government, pro-Kagame propaganda.” In all fairness, I think trying to convince us that ‘The New Times’ and ‘The Dispatch’ are manipulating the population to a point where they might commit genocide, as Robinson does, is rather over the top! However, it is as well. After all, what should we expect from a man who states that in 1992, 1993 and early 1994 “the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF)…..was trying to destabilize the government from bases in Uganda”?
Clearly, this is a man who hardly has a grasp of the recent history of a country that he is so happy to berate. Or else he would know that only he, in the whole wide world, is not aware that at that time RPF occupied large parts of northern Rwanda. And is he done yet? Not on your life! We can’t part without him educating us on how Rwanda has been “on a 15-year human-rights-abusing warpath” to appropriate parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
For, after all, remember “Rwanda’s long held claims that large swaths of Eastern Congo are actually part of Rwanda (that would solve the lack of land, wouldn’t it?)” [sic]. Is he aware that Rwanda is long out of DRC and that the two countries are now enjoying cordial ties? Search me! Nor is he aware that, even on his imagined primitive African continent, people are well awake to the fact that no one can claim possession of parts of another country in this 21st century. As to lack of land in Rwanda, he should know that there are city states that are as developed as his motherland, probably even more.
“It won’t be long before genocide surfaces again,” states Robinson. Pray, did I hear that correct?
Indeed, these rotten peddlers of falsehoods, why don’t we dismiss them out of hand?