Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Politicising Memory

Instead of commemorating lives lost in Rwanda in 1994, Rwandan President Paul Kagame, launched into a negative attack on political freedoms and opposition politics. I remain concerned about the levels of hypocrisy exhibited by the ruling RPF and its agents. They want to call the genocide the "genocide of Tutsi" but then outlaw ethnicity so what happened in 1994 cannot be openly discussed. They want to claim (to international and domestic audiences alike) that the country is democratising, but then claim that democracy leads to genocide.

This article, which summarises Kagame's memorial day speech in Kigali, is reflective of elite hypocrisy....

"Foreigners imposing 'hooligans' like Ingabire on Rwanda"
by Chief Editor

In a 45-minute tirade, President Kagame fired at Ingabire, the west and the
Generals. "They call me Hitler... but I'm not bothered"

Kigali - President Paul Kagame on Wednesday accused foreign critics of trying to
impose values on Rwanda as well as preferring 'hooligans' to govern the country -
categorically singling-out opposition politician Ms. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, RNA

In a fierry 45-minute address to mark the 16th anniversary of the 1994 Tutsi
Genocide, Mr. Kagame accused the opposition - specifically naming Ms. Ingabire in
person, of "political hooliganism". The President also accused the critics of
"abusing me" in the name of freedom of expression, but said he is "not bothered at

"Some people here want to encouraging political hooliganism," he said in English,
before going into a tirade of attacks on Ingabire, as the crowd behind him was in
constant applause.

"Some people just come from nowhere...useless people...I see every time in pictures
some lady who had her deputy - a Genocide criminal, talking about 'there is Genocide
but there is another'...that is politics...and the world is also saying 'the
opposition leader'..."

The President was referring to Mr. Joseph Ntawangundi, the aide to Ms. Ingabire who
was recently sentenced to 17 years for Genocide.

"They call me Hitler"
In a culmination with loud applause and clapping from the audience, President added:
"To that we say a big no. And if anybody wants a fight, then we will give them a

The President dismissed the notion of free expression as promoted by his foreign
critics such as campaign groups, saying Rwandans know what freedom means more than
anybody else can teach them. He also attacked those he described as "constantly
meddling in our politics" by propagating and making up "lies" about his government.
The President warned his critics of hiding behind freedom of express to "abuse me"
but also added that he does not "give a damn".

"They break tool, they call me not bothered at all...I just hold them in
contempt," he said amid more applause. He wondered how his critics attack him and
"at the same time complain about press freedom?"

"You are even free to abuse people, you have no respect for anything...and you turn
around to complain that you have no freedom to express yourself? ...What more do you
want to express about yourself or about others?"

"Ni watu gani awo?"
Mr. Kagame said "bad national politics converged with bad international politics" to
cause what was being commemorated at today April 07 for the next three months.
"Who are these giving anyone here lessons honestly? ...Ni watu gani awo? ...who are
these? ...are these Rwandans complaining? ...or have they sent you to complain on
their behalf? ..." he wondered in a mixture of English, Kinyarwanda and Swahili,
amid applause.

He added: "These Rwandans you see here and elsewhere are as free, as happy [and] as
proud of themselves, like they have never been in their lives."

The President accused the west of preferring to criticize his government but do not
want to be held responsible for their role in the Genocide. He also said the west
was undermining "our dignity", "our values" and "our pride", arguing that democracy
took time to get to the current level in their countries.

"They wake up in the morning, distort [the] situation, tell lies about they are responsible for many of the things that put here today to
commemorate this Genocide...," he said.

"...yet when they talk about freedom of expression, they don't want you to express
yourself about their responsibility in this Genocide...What freedoms are you
teaching me if you cant take responsibility for the politics that killed one million
people in Rwanda."

The Generals
He added: "I know those who say it and support that, know it is wrong. But [it] is
an expression of contempt these people have for Rwandans and for Africans...that
they think Africans deserve to be led by these hooligans."

Turning his guns on the government officials who are fleeing the country apparently
complaining about "no political space", the President accused them of "running away
from accountability".

"These Generals fleeing the country should not be taken seriously," he said, in
apparent reference to ex-army chief Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa, who has political asylum
in South Africa.

Earlier, Sports and Culture Minister Joseph Habineza also attacked the man behind
the Hollywood movie 'Hotel Rwanda'. Mr. Habineza did not name Mr. Paul Rusesabagina
but was clearly referring to him.

Using poetic speech, the Minister also fired at the vocal opposition causing
laughter in the otherwise somber occasion, saying they are blocking the
reconciliation among Rwandans.


  1. Of ocurse they (so called oppositions) should understand that Rwandans, we need to exercise our dignity. They should stop hearing what westerns want instead they should come we work for our Rwanda.

  2. where did you get the idea "anonymous" that those who oppose Kagame are just westerners, if you look around on the internet you will find many rwandese websites that oppose Kagame's RPF. Kagame has a lot of western friends/ admirers and tutors, like for example Michael Fairbanks, Rick Warren and Tom Odom. On the other hand in the blogosophere relating to rwanda you can find a wide variety of opinions on Rwanda, the origin of the great lakes problems today and the solutions.

    It's of course new to Kagame, after having been uncritically admired by western press for 15 years, to see reality catching up. It takes character to take critical feedback serious.
    But it shows cowardice to hide behind empty slogans in the face of real and pertinent questions raised by human rights organisations, experts, journalists and Rwandans both at home and abroad.

  3. Is it anger, manipulation, ultranationalism? whaterever it is scaring!

  4. A Citizen of RwandaApril 9, 2010 at 8:15 AM

    Anonymous, its people like u that are bring down our country and prevent Rwandans from goin forward. Have u ever seen any westerner creat a webbsite to criticize Kagame ?? Please, wake up !! Dont worry, just like some of the former politicians, Kgame´s time is coming and he will dance to the tune of the law, that i can promise !

  5. Replies
    1. Can anyone offer a transcipt of the translated speech?

      Thank you.