Saturday, August 18, 2012

Kinyarwanda-language Poetry Books

This morning, I received a message from Dr Froduald Harelimana asking me to publicize his new collections of Kinyarwanda-language poetry. Nkuzimanire (ISBN # 978-0-98597-781-8) and Bihige (ISBN # 978-0-98597-780-1) are available from the author directly here at 20$ each. You can reach the author, Dr. Harelimana, here.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Old wine in older bottles? Rwanda's Information Economy

I have been pretty silent of late despite all the activity and news coming out of Rwanda in last few months. The M23 rebellion is big news, as is the symbolic cutting of aid to Rwanda. Two comments here. The M23 rebellion is not a surprising development to those of us who follow the region and its politics, and it has been analysed well on the blog. The Atlantic also published a useful piece asking what took the US so long to react and why is it doing so little now that it has cut aid to Kigali. There is an interesting development in the ways that Kigali is managing its PR machine around its presumed role in the M23 rebellion, the UN Group of Experts report, and the cutting or reconsideration of aid by key donors to Rwanda-- the US and UK among them. The trend to watch is whether or not Kigali, through its traditional posse of social media trolls, will continue to believe that it has a monopoly over Rwanda's information economy. Will it dig in its heels and continue with ad hominen attacks that do little to elevate the space for sincere dialogue and action to resolve the 'Congo' issue? Early analysis of the blogosphere suggests it will. Old tracts of the FDLR threat to Rwanda's peace and security are trotted out as the primary rationale for Rwanda's continued presence in the DRC. The personal attacks on Steve Hege (Coordinator of the UN Group of Experts) are recycled from the playbook that suppressed the Gersony Report in 1994, and sought to suppress the October 2010 UN report that linked Rwanda the acts of genocide in the Congo. (See Alex Engwete's post on Hege here). In other words, there is nothing new in Kigali's information management tactics. I think Rwanda's old wine in older bottles approach to managing its public image for international audiences is a sign of weakness. The regime is not in control of its PR machine simply because so few of us buy into the narrative. Kigali's inability/unwillingness to concede space suggests that the government is not in its usual comfortable position of maintaining total control. The RPF can't let the genie out of the bottle, lest attempts to remain in control of its own destiny threaten to unhinge it....