Tread cautiously, critics; Rwanda is a whiff of many surprises

Pray, why is everybody (self not excluded!) fretting over this flood of criticism from the Western organisations, hurled at the behest of their governments, of course? Haven’t we always been with them, especially when we have had an important engagement going?

And yet we have never been fazed and have continued to do what’s in our best interest, their noises notwithstanding. So, let them indulge their vain self-amusement.

A saying in Kinyarwanda goes that the big eyes of a frog in water do not stop cattle from watering, but it’s too polite; a French one about canine conduct not stopping the caravan from passing, too crude.

Maybe we should settle for one from Uganda, considering our David-Goliath relationship with these organisations. It’s about a black ant ‘being assaulted’ (for civility’s sake) by an old village lady on the pathway-side. The ant mockingly tells her that if she knew how many devastating storms it had weathered, she’d know that a little trickle means zee to it.

As the saying goes then, so is it with Rwanda: how many predictions of disaster have we weathered?

The predictors have come in all colours, all masquerading as objective know-alls concerned over the plight of our society. But they can neither run nor hide from self-exposure, in the end. By their conduct, utterances and actions alone, they’ll always betray their nefarious agendas.

Many times results of their efforts have been so embarrassingly absurd that you’d think they’d have given up, but no. They ride roughshod over the embarrassments and press on, despite always ending up as the laughing-stock of those they set out to embarrass, as well as outside observers.

We saw this most starkly in the presidential poll of 2003, the first to be held after the 1994 liberation of this country. It was a three-horse race then, as today, and, also as today, among the candidates was one freshly from exile.

Then, as in the following 2010 race and today, everything was spick-and-span and the campaigns ran smoothly and the voting too, as it verily is going to, this August.
But in 2003 at the final tally when the count was out at one polling station, in what’s today Musanze District, everyone was stunned to see a “neutral” election observer break into tears, softly moaning: “Nooo! He has lost…..!”

Impossible to comprehend as it was, it’d have been tolerable if she was crying over the loss by a credible candidate. No, ‘her’ candidate was the bald-head whose campaigns were attended by mostly passer-by school children, whose curiosity was, in any case, consumed by cows or goats grazing at the campaign venue, with their attendant cattle-egrets or crows.

The candidate’s selective message to those who cared to listen? “My Rwandans, I am of your stock (mumenye ko ndi uwanyu). Cheer your candidates but remember to vote with your heart!”

To Rwandans and the “neutral observers” fronting him, of course, the message was clear: a call to go back to the days of ethnic division. He and his Western backers had banked on the “tyranny” of ethnic numbers.

And the Western proxies (media groups, rights activists, humanitarian organisations, the lot) had worked so hard to prepare the ground, ‘awakening’ Rwandans to their ‘repressive situation’, but only to be left with an egg on the face!

From the outset, 1994, they had worked to destroy the name of the man who, so unfortunately for them, turned out to be the 2003 RPF candidate. There was no dirt on this earth left unturned to paint in him the picture of a man who was a menace to Rwanda, the continent and the world.

In that crusade, even the hitherto bedrock of balanced reporting, the self-billed BBC world radio, was not left behind.

In its Kirundi/Kinyarwanda programmes that it had established to “assist” Rwanda in the repatriation effort of her citizens, one time it declared to the world: “In the southern part of Rwanda, a section of the citizens are forcing another section to carry them on their backs, considering themselves too superior to walk. Those who refuse to carry them are cooked in drums and bangles made out of their cooked remains!”

(The implication of who was supposed to be behind it was certainly not lost on anyone).

Indeed, some citizens near the border with Burundi hopped over, just in case. But, of course, it all proved to be a silly hoax and they all returned. Did BBC apologise? Not on your life!

That, moreover, was on top of giving genocide fugitives plenty of platforms to spread their hate messages, where elsewhere it was a crime to host them.

So, when these are the kind of organisations Rwanda is dealing with, is it a wonder that even disinterested outsiders, seeing the country has advanced in spite of these stupid efforts, are beginning to pay no heed to claims of “sham democracy”, “decades of repression”, “feted and feared”, “climate of fear”, “police state”, “Africans…[seeing Rwanda as a model]…are wrong”?

That’s why the pains of these know-alls instead seem to inadvertently campaign for and popularise the candidate that Rwandans know they deserve and one the world will continue to love doing business with.

The lifespan of all humans may be finite, as we are needlessly ceaselessly reminded, but in his time of building a society with an infinite lifespan, “perhaps the most successful general alive” (as ‘The Economist’ reluctantly concedes) can prove to be like old wine: improving with every decade that passes.

Is that, maybe, precisely the reason for us to fret?

For, God forbid, were they to get a whiff of the threat of a leadership of a total neo-colonial cord severance drive, the guns trained on North Korea would turn Africa-ward, no less!

But then again, going by the superpower missile tsunamis we’ve weathered on this landmass, isn’t that a mere trickle?

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