It is again that time of the year when we expect vicious attacks on Rwanda. The reasons for the annual hate campaign are varied but also well-known. There are those who want to deflect attention from their responsibility in the genocide. Some wish to rekindle the genocide ideology and resume the killing. Yet others, unable to accept the strides Rwandans are making, want to derail that progress and return the country to abject dependence. They have one thing in common: ghosts they have failed to put to rest.
Much as it is difficult to take, there is something good that comes out of these attacks. Most of the recent attacks have been from extreme ideological positions. When you come under fire from both the extreme right and left wings of the political spectrum, you can take heart. You are doing the right thing.
Both wings will find fault with you not because you are doing wrong, but because you can’t fit their description of you. They can’t pigeonhole you into their rigid classification of acceptable behaviour. If you can’t fit, you can’t be right. Or you are too independent, refuse to take orders, question their assumptions about many things and even have the temerity to chart an independent path. When you do this you are wayward and what you do cannot be right.
In the last seventeen years Rwanda has had to live with such assaults precisely because it has refused to be put on a leash and pulled along in the direction the attackers wish to take it, or to be tethered to one spot and be fed at the convenience of the keeper and on a menu of his choice.
Most of the attacks have come from the right wing, both national and foreign. These are often extreme and intolerant nationalists (of the NAZI variety). Their ideology is built on exclusion from political participation on the strength of race, religion, ethnicity or some other undemocratic rationale for holding power. Governments of Rwanda between 1962 and 1994 ruled the country on the basis of this exclusionist ideology.
Currently individuals who espouse this ideology are the ardent supporters and apologists of the FDLR and Victoire Ingabire and her FDU-Inkingi.
This is the position that various nationalist and Christian parties in Europe, some churches and right-wing media have taken.
So the present government of Rwanda is wrong about many things because it is inclusive. By that is meant that it has committed the cardinal sin of including people adjudged by the extremists to have no rights. And that from people professing democracy and Christianity!
Even scholars like Filip Reyntjens puts his brain to finding fault with Rwanda for doing the right thing. Of course it is easy to understand why Reyntjens would go to the length he usually does when discounting Rwanda’s achievements. He has attacked Rwanda for asserting its sovereignty, defending its interest, empowering its citizens and playing its rightful role in international affairs. The current arrangement in the country has deconstructed the state he had helped to build, removed the false foundations he had given it and been more successful. Now, no one, even the most dispassionate scholar and Reyntjens is no such, enjoys seeing their pet project dismantled and shown to have been a fraud.
Spineless opportunists like Dr Theogene, Rudasingwa and co. have also jumped on this bandwagon, inverting reality to suit their self-serving argument. They also support FDLR and its variant, FDU-Inkingi.
Left wing critics, rooted in the ideology of yesteryear and schooled in imperialist conspiracy designs, must put Rwanda in the ideological framework of their thinking and fault it for not conforming. The achievements the country has registered cannot be due to the efforts of the citizens. They can only have been helped by the great imperialist power in its designs to control the world. I wonder if they are being very vocal about Western attacks on Libya at the moment.
Both right and left wing detractors struggle hard to find something really wrong to latch on and hammer Rwandan authorities. Arguments against economic development will not hold. The evidence is too visible. Surely there must be a darker explanation for it. Yes, it is at the expense of individual liberty. And so getting Rwandans out of poverty is a violation of their human rights. Poverty becomes glorified as a sort of natural state to which people have a right.
Rudasingwa, Reyntjens, Stephen Smith and like-minded grumblers hide behind generalisations such as “peasants are getting poorer” And yet what is the evidence? Rising personal incomes of the rural population, per capita that has nearly doubled in the last ten years, improved health and nutrition, drastic reduction in incidence of killer diseases like malaria, universal access to basic education and rising life expectancy.
Again because they cannot find faults with the government that will hold, they resort to assaulting the person of the president. It is a sign of desperation and extreme intolerance.
Of course, we understand that there will always be professional grumblers masquerading as scholars, human rights activists or politicians and that they will vent their bitterness at things that do not quite conform to their specifications or else they will choke on their own bile. We can draw comfort from the fact that the majority of this earth’s inhabitants occupy the centre and are much more balanced than to allow themselves to be consumed by irrational bitterness. And luckily, no amount of bile will stop Rwanda from doing the right thing or halt its march.r